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Copyright. Entered at Stationers' Hall. 




Traditional - Historical - Biographical 


Author of 

"Old Lancashire Songs and their Singers," (1899), 

" Lancashire Poets and their Poems, (1900), 

Foirewood, or Sphnters an' Shavin's fro' a Carpenter's Bench," (1902), 

" Little Spadger's Dog, and other Sketches," (1906), 

"Old Lancashire Songs and their Singers," (1906), Second Issue, 

" Local Poets of the Past," &c., &c. 

Printed for the Author, and sold by him at his residence, 

78, Hamilton Street, Stalybridge. 




Captat7i yoh7i Bates^ 






Samuel HI II. 


mHE books dealing with the History of Stalybridge 
are few in number, and fortunate, indeed, is the 
Hbrary possessing a complete collection — if such a thing 

The rise of its important trade, the cotton manu- 
facture, has scarcely been chronicled, or its early 
pioneers mentioned. Of the many worthy natives 
and residents of the vale in the past, little is known ; 
their worth, work, and quality having almost sunk 
into obscurity. 

For a longer period than I care to admit it has been a 
self-imposed task to gather and glean whatever might 
be considered of interest to my fellow townspeople. 

Early in the spring of the present year I read a portion 
of manuscript to Captain Bates, and he, in the presence 
of Alderman Fentem, suggested that a book dealing 
with the past connections of Stalybridge should be 
written, at the same time promising his support. Alder- 
man Fentem immediately seconded the idea by saying, 


" I will stand my corner." Subsequently, J. F. 
Cheetham, Esq., M.P., was waited upon, and gave me 
such generous help as to lead me to hope for success in 
my venture. 

With such an inauguration, and the untiring energy 
of another friend, the scheme assumed shape. The 
names of various gentlemen were added, and the list 
of patrons and subscribers grew. All classes of people 
supported the idea, and my task commenced in reality. 

For reference and verification the following books 
have been used : — " Aiken's History of Manchester," 
1795 ; " Butterworth," 1823 and 1827 '> ^r. Clay's 
" Geology," 1839 ; " Butterworth," 1841 ; the various 
Histories of Lancashire and Cheshire ; the early 
Directories of 1794-5-6-7, 1818, 1825 ^.nd 1848 ; " Facts 
of the Cotton Famine" ; "History of the Indian Mutiny," 
American data and statistics, etc., etc. 

Attention has also been given to the Geological Charts 
and Ordnance Survey Maps, issued by the Government, 
relating to this district. 

The kindness of the ladies and gentlemen who have 
furnished me with facts concerning their respective 
families is gratefully acknowledged. The privilege of 
access to local burial-registers, and other documents, has 
been of great service, and it has been a pleasure to experi- 
ence the willingness of the older residents of the town to 


answer the somewhat searching questions necessary for 
my purpose. From the mass of newspaper cuttings 
and fragments of manuscript, gathered from all sources, 
much valuable information was unearthed and traced. 

I believe that the book will be of interest — if not now 
at some future period, when a far more able writer 
than I am may find these gleanings of use and service. 

Finally, I beg to heartily thank all those ladies and 
gentlemen who have honoured me with their patronage 
as subscribers ; had it not been for the generous help 
of my fellow-townsmen, this volume could not have 
seen the light of day 

Samuel Hill. 

78 Hamilton Street 
gth November, 1907. Stalybridge 




Title Page ---------- iii 

Dedication ---------- iv 

Preface - - - - - - - - - v, vi, vii 

Table of Contents - - ix, x, xi, xii, xiii, xiv, xv, xvi 

Introduction -------- xvii, xviii 


Early Records of the Vale, 
chapter i. 


The Vale of Stayley— Natural Resources — Geological 
formation — Mines and Minerals — The River Tame - - i 


In Prehistoric Times — Ancient British Footprints — 
Echoes from the mound of ' ' Bucton ' ' — Roman Traces - 6 


Staveleigh and its Ancient Records— The Staveleigh 
Pedigree— The Legend of Roe-Cross— The Effigies of Sir 
Ralph de Stayley and his Lady — The Stayley Chapel in 
Mottram Church --------- 15 


Early Records of the Vale — Robertus de Rasbotham — 
John of Heghrode — Flaxfield — Clearance of Timber — Staley- 
Wood ----------- 22 



The Old Halls and Folds— Stayley Hall— Heyrod Hall - 
Castle Hall— Hollins Hall— Gorse Hall — Harridge Hall - 25 


The Old Bridle-paths — The Roman Roads — The King's 
Highway — The Turnpike Road — Toll-bars — The old River 
Ford— The First Bridge — Present Bridges - - - 36 


Early Industries. 


The Advent of Mechanical Industry — The Old Hand- 
Loom and the Single-Spindle — List of Farmers, Weavers 
and Residents 1770 ---...-. ^2 


The Introduction of Motive Power — The Dog-wheel— 
The Horse-gin —The Water-wheel — The Steam Engine - 46 


The Early Spinning Mills — Primitive Carding — The 
First Jennies and Water Frames in the Town — Early 
Carding and Preparation — The Working Hours - - 48 


Opposition to the Introduction of Machinery — "King 
Lud" — The Luddites and Mill Burners — The Luddite Oath — 
Anti-Luddite Placard— Military Intervention— Captain Raines 
at Roe Cross Inn — Executions of Luddites - - - - 52 


Factory Life in 18 14 — Treatment of Operatives — 
Wages — Pay-days — Accident to Joseph Bayley - - 55 



Early Cotton Masters and Trade 

chapter i. 

The Pioneers of the Cotton Trade — Directory 1794- 
lygy — Early Cotton Spinners, Woollen Manufacturers, Iron 
Founders, Millwrights, and Hat Manufacturers - - 58 


Rapid Growth of the Town — Statistics of Population — 
Number of Mills— Prosperity of the Cotton-Masters — List of 
Mansions, &c. — The Trade Disturbances of 1830-31— The 
Remedy — List of Special Constables — Precautions — The 
Rising of the Chartists— The People's Charter— The Pike 
Maker — "The Parson and the Pike." - - - - 65 


The Cotton " Panic," its Cause 
AND Effect. 


The War Cloud of 1852-3-4— 57— " The Cotton Supply 
Association," John Cheetham, Esq. — Early Cotton Imports — 
Comparative Prices, Returns, "and Wages on the eve of the 
" Cotton Panic " --------- 78 


The "Cotton Panic" and its cause — John Brown — 
President Lincoln — Local Manufacturers and the War — 
Commencement of the Blockade— Confederate Bonds — The 
Blockade-Runners — American Sympathy - - - - 82 



"Hard Times" — Ruin for the Masters — Suftering for 
the Operatives— The Surat Weaver's Song— Bankruptcies - 86 


The Bread Riots — Arrival of the Hussars— Reading of 
the Riot Act — Wholesale Arrests and Convictions— Arrival 
of Infantry with fixed Bayonets— More Cavalry— The use of 
the Cutlass— Meeting of Operatives— Settlement - - 90 


The Central Executive Relief Committee, Manchester, 
and the Operatives of Stalybridge — The Sewing Classes and 
Schools— The Return of "King Cotton"— The memorable 
27th June, 1864 — " Hard times come again no more" — 
Cotton Return, February 7th, 1865 ----- 95 


The Religious History of the Town 
IN brief. 

Old St. George's, Cocker Hill— St. Paul's, Stayley— 
St. George's, The Hague— Holy Trinity Church— St. James' 
Church, Millbrook— Christ Church— Chapel Street School— 
The People's School — The Wesleyans — The General 
Baptists— The Ebenezer Baptists. Cross Leech Street — 
Heyrod Union Sunday School— The Primitive Methodists— 
The Congregationalists— The Methodist New Connexion 
Chapel— St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church — United 
Methodist Free Church— The Unitarians— The Gospel 
Mission Hall, Kay Street ------- loi 



Local Gleanings. 


The Markets of Olden Times — List of Commissioners — 
Selecting the Site for the Market — Knowl Meadow and 
Hyde's Fold — The Contractors — The Market Steps — Fish- 
Market and Lock-ups— Staly bridge Market on Saturday 
night — -The Victoria Market . . _ . . 126 


Local Place-Names : — Flaggy Fields — New Town, the 
Piecer's Market— Wot-Hole Steps— The Old Hen-Cote— Sud 
Alley — Tabitha City — Waterloo - The Stumps — The Cock-pit 131 


Old Customs and Pastimes — Staley Wood Rush- 
Cart— Bull-Baiting — Peace-Egging — Bon-Fires — " Past Ten 
o'clock" — Weil-Dressing ------- 139 


Quaint Gleanings from the Past — The Staley Wood 
Club, 1792 — The First Machine-Shop— The Blanketeers — 
Millbrook — The Post-Offices of the Past — Body Snatching 147 


The Mill Schools — The Dames' Schools — Private Schools 
and Academies — Night Schools — The Educational Institute 156 


The First Fire Engine and Fire Brigade — The Turnover 
from thft Subscribers to the Commissioners — The Old 
Brigade — A Fire at Ashton — The Water Supply — List of 
Chief Officers - . - - - . . 160 



Local Institutions and Movements. 


The Mechanics' Institution — Its First Home — Migration 
and Growth — Projected Institution — PreHminary Meetings 
and Result — The ReaHsation --.-_. jQ^ 

chapter II. 

The Volunteer Movement — The Astley Rifle Corps — 
The First Muster-Roll— Past Officers— The Roll of Honour- 
Retired Commanding Officers - ; - - - 169 


The Stalybridge Old Band— The Stalybridge Ancient 
Shepherds Band — The Stalybridge Harmonic Society — The 
Stalybridge Boro. Band ..--..- 176 


The Aged People's Tea Party — The First Committee, 
Friends, and Supporters — The Foresters' Hall — The Thespian 
Society of 1814 — Ridge Hill Lanes Institute . _ . 183 


The Stamford Park Movement — Newspaper Corre- 
spondence — Preliminary Meetings — Opposition — List of Sub- 
scriptions — Opening by Lord Stamford — Turnover to the 
Corporations - - - - - - - - - 187 


The Co-operative Movement— Formation of Committee — 
Opening of Stores — Early Struggles — Growth — Present 
Position -----.-..- 195 



Biographical Sketches, 
chapter i. 


Dr. John Whitehead, Physician and Biographer — 
John Bradbury, F. L. S., NaturaHst and Explorer — Jethro 
Tinker, Botanist and Entomologist, our local Linnaeus- 
Lieutenant John Buckley, V.C., one of the defenders of 
the Delhi Magazine -------- 200 



John Cheetham, Esq.— John Leech, Esq. — Mr. and 
Mrs. Robert Piatt— Ralph Bates, Esq. - - - - 218 



George Cheetham, Esq. — John Leech, Esq. — John Lees, 
Esq. --Thomas Harrison, Esq. -Joseph Bayley, Esq. -Thomas 
Mason, Esq. — James Wilkinson, Esq. — David Harrison, Esq., 
D.L., J. P. —Abel Harrison, Esq., J. P.— William Bayley, 
Esq. — Henry Bayley, Esq. — Albert Hall, Esq., J. P. — 
Thomas Harrison, Esq., J. P. — Hugh Mason, Esq.,D.L., J.P. 
— The Kenworthys and the Kinders — The Halls — The 
Bayleys— The Mellors— The Orrells— The Wagstaffes— The 
Vaudreys — The Bates' — The Sidebottoms — The Ridgways— 
The Adsheads— The Ouseys. ------ 240 



Francis Dukinfield Astley, Esq. -James Sidebottom, Esq., 
J.P., M. P.— William Summers, Esq., M.P.— Dr Hopwood, 
V.D,, J. P.— Robert Smith, Esq. - - - - -275 




John Summers, Esq., J. P. — William Storrs, Esq., J.P. — 
Thomas Wainwright, Esq., J. P. —Robert Broadbent, Esq., 
J.P. — Messrs. Taylor, Lang & Co.— Edward Buckley, Esq. 290 



John Lees — Thornton Ousey — Joseph Wild —William 
Nolan — Buckley Ousey — Samuel Maden . - - - 301 



James Baxter, the ingenious blacksmith — Joseph Heap, 
the village constable — Edward Godley — Joseph Hall— George 
Newton — The Smith Brothers— Samuel Hurst— William 
Hague, "Blind Billy" 

Two Local Athletes, George Adam Bay ley & Alfred Summers 307 



John Jones— Thomas Kenworthy — George Smith — Rev, 
Joseph Rayner Stephens ^William Chadwick — Samuel 
Laycock - - - ..-..-- 317 

List of Mayors --------- 329 

Conclusion -------- 330, 331 



" Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, 
A dearer, sweeter spot, than all the rest." 


IN ancient times the name of the place now 
known as Stalybridge was Stavelegh or Stayley, 
the addition of the word "bridge" having occurred 
when the first bridge was erected over the river- 
ford. Situated in the vale of the Tame, which divides 
Lancashire from Cheshire, there are few manufacturing 
towns of the same area with so varied a surface level, for 
whilst the bed of the river at its lowest point is little more 
than 320 feet above sea level at Liverpool, the uplands, 
hills, and moors in the vicinity rise with varied gradients 
to the height of 800, 900, and even 1,300 feet. The 
climate, which is moist and cold, is said to owe its 
conditions to the high ridges of the Pennine Range, from 
which the clouds rebound and discharge their rain in 
these districts. Up to the year 1896 " the locaHties 
and parochial connexions of Stalybridge were singular : 
it was partly in the Hundred of Macclesfield, in the 


County of Chester, but principally in the Hundred of 
Salford, in the County of Lancaster, one-eighth part of 
the inhabitants residing in the parish of Mottram-in- 
Longdendale, and the remaining seven-eighths in the 
division of Hartshead, in the parishes of x\shton and 

"Since 1896, however, Staly bridge has been a distinct 
township in the County of Chester, for administrative 
purposes. The section of the town situated in Lan- 
cashire, is, for ecclesiastical purposes, still in the rural 
deanery of Ashton, archdeaconry and diocese of 
Manchester, the Cheshire portion belongs to the rural 
deanery of Mottram, archdeaconry of Macclesfield, and 
diocese of Chester. " 

The position of Stalybridge is very central, and its 
railway communications exceptionally convenient, 
direct connections existing to all parts of the country. 

By road it is distant from Manchester 7J miles, 
Oldham 54, Macclesfield 19, Huddersfield 18, Shefheld 
30, Stockport 7, and London 182. The pedestrian 
who knows the countrv can find shorter routes. 


Printed in Stalyp.ridge 



Eclipse Works 

Market Street 



Early Records of the Vale. 
(ri)apter 1, 

The Vale of Stayley — Natural Resources — Geological form- 
ation — Mines and Minerals — The River Tame. 

" Beyond a certain limit all is but conjecture." 


^^L" HE Parish of Stayley, according to the geological 
^^J charts, is outside the area of the local coaJ meas- 
ures. A series of "faults," or dislocations of the strata, is 
shown in the ordnance surveys, whilst the two great 
local out-crops, of the " lower coal measures and 
gannister beds," may be examined bj^ ail. The brook 
course in Early Bank Wood reveals the various 
formations on the Cheshire side of the vale — really 
the commencement of the great Cheshire coal fields, 
which extend to Macclesfield. An out-crop of a similar 
character, the termination of the coal measures of 
South-east Lancashire, can be examined in the face 
of the hillside near Old St. George's Church. 


Thus, in the vale itself there may never have been 
more than two or three coal-pits, which were of no 
great depth, namely, the " Rabbit Holes," off High 
Street, and the " Ridge Hill ;" yet within a short radius 
there exist, according to geological publications, nearly 
fifty seams of coal. These valuable deposits range in 
thickness from six feet to twelve inches, and make a 
total of 135 feet. 

The eminent Dr. Charles Clay, M.R.C.S., published a 
book dealing with the geology of this district, perhaps 
one of the first volumes ever printed in Stalybridge, 
and which remiains a monument to the well-remembered 
" lowerth Davis." 

In the pages of this rare volume will be found a 
tabulated list, showing the thickness and order of the 
various beds of rock, seams of coal, and shale formations. 

At the beginning of last century the local coal-mine 
shafts were not more than from 60 to 105 yards in 
depth, depending on the bearing of the strata. The subse- 
quent invention of the safety lamp by Davy — afterwards 
Sir Humphrey Davy — enabled the miners to descend and 
work the lower coal seams with less danger than hitherto. 

In the year 1839, ^^^ period when Dr. Clay published 
his book, the formations of the earth's crust in this 
neighbourhood were known and named, to the depth 
of 1,256 yards, and it was from the miners and mining 
engineers who had been engaged in these dangerous, 
yet important, operations, that the physician-geologist 
obtained his facts. 

The principal beds of rock through which the mine 


shafts were sunk, at the cost of vast sums of money 
and great loss of hfe, comprised the following : — 

Yards Yards 

Thick. Thick. 

1 Bardsley .... 17 7 Black Rod .. .. 32 

2 Park 19 8 Upholland . . . . 15 

3 Foxhole .... 14 9 Austerlands . . 34 

4 Trencher Bone. . 20 10 Haslingden .. 20 

5 Edge Fold .. 22 11 Higher Mill Stone 30 

6 New 38 

Numerous other beds exist which Dr. Clay mentions 
and describes, with notes as to their various qualities. 

In the countryside water courses and gullies, boulder 
stones are found, of almost every description of the 
older series of rocks, such as " granite, porphyry, lime- 
stone," etc. Extensive layers of both the upper and the 
lower " boulder clays " exist, and furnished the supplies 
for the industry of brick making which was formerly 
carried on in the district. Fire-clay is to be found in 
abundance beneath the rugged slopes of Ridge Hill, 
with a trace of ironstone occasionally. 

In various parts of the vale, " an immense deposit of 
sand presents itself, in some places fifteen yards thick, 
and is intersected by thick veins of silt or consolidated 
mud, having an appearance of being deposited at 
different periods ; it appears also probable that the 
course of the River Tame, at some remote period, was 
more northward than at the present time, and these 
sand banks were produced on the original course of 
the river." 

Local geologists and practical miners who have spent 
their lives in the coal mines of this district are united 


in their opinion that Stalybridge is situated on the site 
of what has been in ages past the field of "active volcanic 
movement and seismic upheaval," the evidence of 
which we are told "confronts us at every turn." 

The fossil hunter may easily fill his wallet and enrich 
his collection by a visit to any of the local quarries or 
pit debris mounds, where choice specimens await his 
coming. Fern fronds, branches of trees, and beautiful 
shell forms exist in abundance. The magnificent 
collection of fossils which has been for years on exhibi- 
tion in the Stamford Park Museum is well worth 
inspection and notice, and should be particularly in- 
teresting to the rising generation. 


The River has been alluded to by a certain writer 
as the ' Parent of the Mersey.' Be that as it may, it 
cannot be denied that its waters, and the benefit to be 
derived from their use as a means of motive power, 
played a very important part in the birth and early 
days of the woollen and cotton industries of this district. 

The River Tame rises in the range of hills which lie to 
the north of Saddleworth, and as we know it at Staly- 
bridge is the joint flood of many mountain brooks and 
streams. The principal of these are the Chew and the 
Diggle, which join the Tame and lose their own names 
at the same time. The Saxons christened the Tame, 
the Diggle, and the Chew. The two latter have their 
sources in the hills north and south-east of Saddleworth, 
their waters being really the output of the springs in 


the morasses and bogs of Featherbed Moss, Doveston 
Moss and Holme Moss. These extensive moorland 
tracts, solemn and grand in their undisturbed solitude, 
are almost without human inhabitants. Tenanted 
chiefly by game and wild fowl, they are seldom disturbed 
by the presence of mankind, save during the shooting 
season, or by the visit of some botanical devotee. It 
has been calculated that the Tame, the Diggle, and the 
Chew receive the drainage from lands having an area 
of fifty square miles. The waters of Carr Brook and 
Swineshaw Brook join in on the Cheshire side, whilst 
the streams of Stayley also help to swell the volume. 
In times past the Tame was subject to sudden floods, 
which caused great damage to property on its banks. 
The subsequent establishment of extensive reservoirs 
and waterworks has done much to check the rush of 
water from the steep hill sides. The vale of the Tame 
must have been at one time a veritable Paradise, and 
even to-day there are, in spite of the ravages of the 
necessary smoke and grime of our manufactories, many 
choice vistas of river-landscape to be seen by those 
who care for such pleasures. In the higher reaches of 
the tributary streams the scenery is grand and ex- 
ceedingly impressive, solemn and sublime in its rugged 
weirdness. The mountaineering visitor may find, 
within a radius of a few miles, the undisturbed wilds 
which were the homes and haunts of men in prehistoric 

The course of the River Tame is of a very winding 
nature, although in some places means have been used 


to straighten it. Flowing through scenes of varied 
associations, after leaving Yorkshire it forms the 
dividing line between Lancashire and Cheshire. 

Although the distance from Stockport, where it falls 
into the Mersey, to its source in the Yorkshire moors, 
would not be much more than twelve miles as the crow 
flies, yet, in consequence of the windings and turnings 
of its waters as it flows along, its real length is said 
to be nearly 40 miles. 

Bare and cold as the out-cropping strata may appear 
to the bustling passer-by of to-day, dark and turbid 
as the waters of the Tame may be, the stony faces of 
rock and the inartistic bed of the river are still interesting 
to the geologist. 

(Tbapter 2. 

In Prehistoric Times — Ancient British Footprints — Echoes 
from the mound of " Bucton " — Roman Traces. 

" The past, be it remembered, is never found isolated in nature, but is 

interwoven inseparably with ihe present, thus forming 

a beacon flame for the future." 

Richard Wright Procter. 

Vji/ HE field for prehistoric research is ample and wide 
\Sir in the vicinity of Stalybridge. Although there 
is not much hope of finding antiquities in the heart 
of the town, the following recently came under the 
writer's notice. 

Under the heading of "Prehistoric Man," in a very 


embracive article dealing with the known antiquities 
of Cheshire, bearing the date of 1906, it was interesting 
to read the following : — " The remains of early man 
appear to be scarce in this County, but one or two 
* finds ' have occurred. Of the Palaeolithic, or Older 
Stone Age, no trace has been discovered in Cheshire." 

Dealing with the " Neolithic, or Newer Stone Age," 
which came to an end in Britain about 2,000 B.C., the 
writer continues : — " Mr. C. E. de Ranee records a 
quoit-shaped stone implement, about 6 inches in 
diameter, from drift 20 feet below the surface at Staly- 
bridge Railway Station." This relic will probably be 
in the possession of one of the Cheshire Antiquarian 

About the year 1882 a number of boys were playing 
in the vicinity of Sand Street, Stalybridge, when they 
found in a gully or drain a peculiar shaped stone. They 
began to use it as a quoit, when it occurred to a by- 
stander that the stone might be worthy of preservation. 
Accordingly it was submitted to the notice of a local 
enthusiast, who pronounced it to be " the handiwork 
of man." 

It proved to be the upper portion of a " quern," or 
hand-mill for grinding grain. It is now in the possession 
of a local gentleman who kindly lent it for inspection 
at the recent Jubilee Exhibition of 1907. 

Entirely different from the British and Roman hand- 
mills found in the neighbouring vale of Longdendale, it 
may belong to the same period as the " find " previously 


The slopes and plateaux of the Pennine Range have 
long been the hunting grounds of devout and practical 
antiquarians. Their labours have been rewarded at 
intervals by the discovery of ancient relics and proofs 
of the occupation and existence of man at a remote 
period. Since the year 1901 a local antiquarian, Thomas 
Ashton, Esq., has obtained by diligent search a rare 
and choice collection of " Ancient British Flints," 
which are certainly amongst the oldest traces of man 
in this district. They were kindly lent for inspection, 
and were much noticed in the Jubilee Exhibition. 
These relics are in the form of flint chippings, scrapers, 
miniature spear points, and arrow heads, of which 
there are no less than twelve choice specimens. 
Antiquities such as these are ample proof of man's 
existence hereabouts, when the hill tops were the haunts 
of wild beasts, the hunting and slaying of which 
furnished the ancient Brigantes with food and garments. 

The " grit-stone of which the hills mainly consist is 
not favourable for the preservation of animal remains," 
yet, under the peat of the moors, there may be preserved 
many relics of remote periods. It was the custom of 
the wild tribes who inhabited the local hills to cremate 
the bodies of their chieftains after death, placing the 
ashes inside an earthen vase, and burying the same in 
a stone-protected cavity, above which another large 
stone was placed for further protection. 

Several of these burial urns have been found in recent 
years on the Pennine Range, within easy distance of 


Bucton, and there is every reason to believe that such 
things exist in our own district. 

The ancient Britons had a coinage of their own, a 
specimen of which, supposed to be the oldest known, 
bearing a date 200 B.C., is at the present time in the 
possession of Lord Avebury (Sir John Lubbock). 

A valuable guide, in the shape of map and chart, has 
been drawn and compiled by Samuel Andrew, Esq., of 
Lees. It is entitled '' Ancient British Footprints." 
It is of great service, as it defines the line of British 
connecting links in this district and also specifies the 
places where antiquities have been found. 

It is recorded that on the summit of Wild Bank the 
practised eye of the antiquarian can discern Druidical 
signs and tokens, in the form of rudely cut stones, etc. 
In the vicinity of Ashton Hill Cross, Shaw Moor, and 
also near Shire Clough, Carr Brook, there are to-day 
large blocks of stone which appear to have been shaped 
and placed in their present positions by the hand of man. 

Perhaps the grandest memorial existent is the ancient 
earth-built fort of Bucton. Bucton Castle, as it is 
known to the natives and dwellers in the vale, is possibly 
at the present time little more than a bleak moorland 
summit, rising to the height of 1,126 feet above the 
level of the sea. Bald and dun, scarred and swept by 
the cutting blasts so common to its vicinity, there still 
linger about its crest memories and traditions which 
many people will not willingly allow to be forgotten. 

Its natural commanding situation lends itself at 
once to the supposition of its having been a military 


stronghold in ages past, whilst as a site for a beacon 
light or a signalling station few places will bear com- 
parison. Situated on the confines of four important 
counties — Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, and Derby- 
shire — it forms a centre not to be ignored. Located 
directly in the line of route between Melandra, or 
Mouselow and Castleshaw, in Saddleworth, its 
importance in the days when the Roman generals 
inaugurated their military system must have been 
well considered. A reliable historian writes in 1776 
as follows : — " The Romans did well to keep possession 
of these camps of one day's march that they might, 
as soldiers on their motions, be sure of convenient 
lodging and other necessaries every night. ... In 
case of an attack they could give notice to the neigh- 
bouring garrisons by means of beacons, and they were 
sure of immediate assistance." 

Butterworth, the local historian, who furnished 
much of the material and data found in the histories 
of this district, writes as follows : — " Bucton Castle, 
in Micklehurst, is situated on the north-western edge 
of the great moss called ' Featherbed Moss,' at about 
an equal distance between Mottram and Saddleworth. 
The castle is of an oval form, consisting of a rampart 
and a ditch, and stands on the summit of a high hill, 
very steep towards the west and south, commanding 
a view over the south part of Lancashire and the whole 
of Cheshire, and easterly to the West Nab in Yorkshire. 
Within the interior of the ditch, close by the rampart 
on the south, is a well, and opposite, on the south-west, 


the ruins of a building are visible standing six or seven 
feet higher than the parade. The ditch is wanting on 
the west side, near which the country people dug in 
1730 expecting to find treasure. The inner slope from 
the top of the rampart is 27 feet ; its perpendicular 
6 feet ; outer slope, from the top of the rampart to the 
bottom of the ditch 35 feet ; inner slope of the ditch 
16 feet ; depth of the ditch 8 feet ; width at the bottom 
6 feet ; height of rampart above the level of the ground 
8 feet ; breadth of gateway 16 feet ; the whole of the 
area within the ditch measuring 156 feet by 120. (See 
Percival MSS.)" 

A very excellent engraved plan of the site of Bucton 
Castle may be seen in Aiken's " Forty Miles Round 

An account exists, written by Canon Raines, of an 
" accidental discovery about the year 1767 of a gold 
necklace and a silver vessel at the foot of the camp. 
The necklace consisted of 18 beads as large as a bullet, 
and a locket upon a chain ; it was sold for a guinea. 
The silver vessel would hold a quart ; it was sold for 
two shillings. A third silver article of less value was 
also found." 

It would be very interesting to know whether these 
articles are still in existence, and if so, where they are 
at the present time. 

A well-known local worthy of the past has left behind 
him a description of a visit to Bucton and its memories, 
which is entitled to preservation : 

'* It was high noon when I found myself upon the 


summit of * Bucton,' which commands a full view of 
the fine valley that divides the counties of York, 
Chester, and Lancaster. I paused for a moment or two 
and endeavoured to throw my mind back to that period 
at which tradition says there stood upon the spot, 
— from which I gazed upon wild moors, green fields, 
and isolated dwellings — an ancient castle. I walked round 
and round, but in vain. I sought for its ruins ; not a 
block of stone that seemed to have been used for that 
purpose was to be found, else there would have been 
some vestiges of its existence. 

" Poets have immortalised it in song. J. C. Prince, 
on wending his way up the mountain side, exclaims : — 

' Before me, single in his modest pride. 

Majestic Bucton swelleth towards the sky ; 

His belt of dwarf oak reddening on his side. 

Flinging a flush of beauty on the eye.' 

" Painters have sketched his fir-clad breast, and anti- 
quarians have searched in vain for proofs of its existence ; 
yet the neighbourhood is rife and ripe with traditionary 
tales of belted knights and fair dames, and of giants 
who fought for the n3nTiphs of the valley. 

" Many a legend still exists of the fairies who danced 
upon the beautiful table-land behind the castle walls, 
when the full moon threw her silvery rays athwart the 
winding Tame, which still flows as of old through the 
valley below. Some have held that it was a Roman 
station ; others that it was a fort of the ancient 
Britons to keep in check the incursions of the Picts 
and Scots, for it is well known that after the Romans 


had evacuated the country the Picts and Scots broke 
down the great wall which the Romans had erected, 
and ravaged the whole country as far as the county of 
Lancaster. The Britons, being reduced by distress and 
internal dissensions, Vortigern, the King, invited the 
Saxons to his assistance, and with the united forces 
drove the Picts and the Scots from the Kingdom. In 
a short time the tug of war began between the Saxons 
and the Britons, which resulted in the latter being 
totally defeated. The conquerors divided the country 
into seven kingdoms, which constituted the Heptarchy, 
and eventually resolved itself into the little kingdom 
of Angleland, or England, as the Saxons styled them- 
selves Angles. The country was afterwards invaded 
by the Danes, who made themselves masters of the 
whole of Northumberland, as well as the principal 
parts of Durham and Yorkshire. 

" In order to show that Bucton was a place of some 
importance at this period of time, an old manuscript, 
found in the archives of York, about the latter part of 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, says : — ' The Saxons had 
a station on the north-east boundary of Cheshire, where 
it meets and is bounded by Lancashire and Yorkshire.' 

" This must be the vicinity of Bucton, for within 
half-a-mile of the foot of the mountain is the junction 
of the counties alluded to. It is further stated in the 
document that ' about this time the valley was an 
impassable forest, from the head of Saddleworth to the 
neighbourhood of Stockport.' And as the adjoining 
parts of Lancashire and Cheshire were covered with 


swamps and lakes, it is probable that the Saxons were 
enabled to set the Danes at defiance for a considerable 
length of time ; but, ultimately, the Danes forced the 
Saxons from their stronghold in the mountains, and 
pushed their way through the Midland Counties as far 
as the Trent. ' Prior to this, the contending parties 
met on a plain at the foot of a neighbouring mountain,' 
so says the document alluded to (was this the battle 
of Allsmanheath ?) ' The contest was long and bloody, 
but the Saxons were ultimately routed, and fled in great 
disorder into the mountains of Wales.' This misfortune 
befel the Saxons in the reign of King Alfred, to whose 
goodness and wisdom we are indebted for many things 
which add to the comfort and happiness of the people 
of this realm. No stronger evidence of the existence 
of a castle upon the bleak mountain of Bucton 
can be adduced than that given above ; yet we may 
conclude with some degree of certainty that it was 
a strong military station in the dark ages, during the 
deadly struggles between the Picts and Scots, and also 
between the Danes and Saxons at a later period of 
English history." 

There is little need for the fabrication and manufacture 
of prehistoric traces in this district, the ancient lines of 
road, which led the wild Picts and Scots to places where 
they could pillage and destroy, will even to this day 
serve to guide the seeker to out of the way spots where 
he may verify the facts for himself. To the thinking 
reader, in his moments of leisure, when the mind in its 
relaxation shall revert to the past, these gleanings may 


serve to point the way, whereby, in memory, he can 
trace the footprints of half naked war-hke Brigantes, 
or armed Roman Legions. He may wander along the 
indistinct, and stony avenues of crumbling antiquity 
until he becomes obUvious to the bustling present, 
and finds himself lost in the windings, twistings, and 
fascinations of the moss grown aisles of time. 

(TbapUr 3. 

Staveleigh and its Ancient Records The Staveleigh Pedigree 
—The Legend of Roe-Cross— The Effigies of Sir Ralph de Stayley 
and his Lady — The Stayley Chapel in Mottram Church. 

I have endeavoured to blend the quick and the dead in this chronicle." 


mHE chronicler of events deaHng with traditionary 
and legendary history is entirely dependent on the 
accounts written by bygone scribes, which, having 
survived the stormy times of the Cromwellian period, 
are left as literary legacies to posterity. From a number 
of these ancient records a selection has been made for 
this chapter. 


The following is copied from Butterworth's 
History of this neighbourhood, published in 1823, 
page 124 : 


" The following may be illustrative of the antiquity 
of Staley-Bridge, and the ancient family of the Staveleys, 
who once occupied Stealey Hall, in the sixteenth year 
of Edward the Third. 

" Robert de Staveley vel Staveleigh married one 
Dyonysia, and held Staveley from the Lord of 
Mottram, but the superior Lords were the Maccles- 
fields. Oliver de Staveleigh, his successor, married 
Johanna (or Joan) daughter of Hamond Fitton, of 
BoUin, and widow of Richard Venables. He was 
patron of the Church of Thornton-le-Moors in right 
of his wife. 

" The direct male line of the Staveleighs continued 
here until Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Ralph 
Staveleigh, married Thomas, son and heir of John de 
Assheton ; which Thomas and Elizabeth, loth of 
Edward 4th, passed a fine of the said manor and land 
and messuages therein, settling the same on themselves 
and the heirs of the said Elizabeth. Thomas Assheton, 
last male heir of the eldest branch of the ancient family 
of Assheton, of Ashton-under-Lyne, was knighted at 
Rippon 7th, of Henry the 7th, and is supposed to have 
contributed largely towards rebuilding the Church 
of Ashton-under-Lyne, on the steeple of which is the 
coat of arms of Assheton (argent, a mullet, sable) 
impaling that of his first wife, Elizabeth Staveleigh. 
He died about the 8th year of Henry the 7th, leaving 
a daughter by his second wife, Agnes Harrington, of 
Westby ; and by his first wife he had issue, Margaret, 
wife of William Booth, of Dunham Massey, and 


Elizabeth, wife of Randle Assheton, who died without 
issue. By Inq. P.M. 2nd of Ehzabeth; EHzabeth 
Assheton, widow, held lands in Staveley and Godeley, 
and I id. rent therein in soccage from the Queen (by 
reason of the forfeiture of Francis, Lord Lovell) by 
the render of id. value xxi£ xs. xd., of William Booth, 
great-grandson of her sister, Margaret Booth, next of 
kin and heir. 

" George Booth, son of the said Margaret, by in- 
quisition, 23rd of Henry VIII., had previously died, 
seized of other lands in Mattely, Godeley, and Styall, 
held as above, value 28£ 13s. 4d. 

" From this family Stayley has passed, with other 
estates of the Booth's, to the present Earl of Stamford, 
who holds a Court Baron for the same. The township 
is also subject to the Leet of Mottram." 


There are many and various settings of the legend 
or tradition of Staveleigh, the best to the writer's 
thinking being the version given by our local historian, 
Butterworth, in his book published in 1827, from which 
we quote the following : — 

" In the south aisle of the chancel of this (Mottram) 
Church, which belongs to the Earl of Stamford as 
representative of the Stayleys, is the monument of a 
knight and his lady, without arms or inscription, most 
probably (says Lyson) one of the family of Staveleigh, 
or Stayley, which became extinct in the reign of Edward 
the Fourth. The current tradition of the place for the 



last two centuries respecting this rude monument has 
been that it is the monument of the Rowes of Stayley, 
but it does not appear that the family of Roe had any 
connection with Stayley, which passed by a female heir 
to the Asshetons and then to the Booths. It is known 
that there is still in existence a society, who, though 
the order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, or 
Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, are abolished, still 
meet in private, keeping up the insignia and some 
of the rules observed by this order of Crusaders, in 
what they denominate a conclave. It is also known 
that the Knight represented in the monument we are 
now speaking of has certain ' insignia ' belonging 
thereto that denominates the person to have been a 
Knight Crusader. This order are in possession of the 
following tradition, which has been handed down to 
the present members, respecting this knight and his 
lady. Sir Ralph Staveleigh, in the time of Richard the 
First, accompanied that monarch to the war, generally 
denominated the Holy War (which that monarch waged 
to the impoverishment of England and the loss of 
the flower of the British youth), and in that foolish 
contest with the Saracens for the recovery of the Holy 
Sepulchre, Sir Ralph, aforesaid, was taken prisoner and 
confined in Syria for many years, but suffered at 
last, on his parole of honour, to return to his native 
land in order to raise a certain sum on his estates or 
otherwise as his ransom. 

" Travelling in disguise (it being thought so dis- 
honourable to return from so sacred a war, in any 


otherwise than what is termed an heroic manner) he 
arrived at a place near his former habitation, where 
cwo roads traversed each other. At this place he was 
met by an old domestic, accompanied by a dog, which 
had long been a domesticated animal. The dog was 
the first of the two to recognise its former master, and 
by its barking and fawning manner brought the attention 
of the servant to survey the pilgrim, who, on close 
attention, he perceived also was his former master. 

" An explanation followed, the servant informing 
him that Lady Staveleigh was the very day following 
going to be married to another man. This was indeed 
a cross, and demanded a symbol to denote the same, 
which was subsequently erected by the Knight. 

" He was, however, determined to see his Lady, 
prior to the second engagement. 

" He proceeded therefore forward to the ancient 
mansion of the Staveleighs (the very site of the modern 
one) and desired to see Lady Staveleigh. 

" He w^as told, however, it was impossible, as she 
was in preparation for her nuptials the following day, 
and could not be seen by any other man but her 
intended bridegroom. He begged, however, to be 
refreshed wdth a cup of metheglin. This was granted, 
and when he had finished the same he dropped a private 
ring into the bottom of the vessel and desired the servant 
maid to deliver the cup and ring to her lady. 

" Upon Lady Staveleigh examining the ring, she 
exclaimed whoever was the bearer thereof must be 
either Sir Ralph Staveleigh or some messenger from 


him. But, added she, if it be really Sir Ralph himself, 
he is acquainted with a certain mark or mole upon me 
in a concealed part that none but himself knows of. 
The Knight returned an answer by the servant which 
convinced Lady Staveleigh that it was Sir Ralph him- 
self. The joy on his return may be better conceived 
than described, and a memorial of, his return has ever 
since been preserved where those roads crossed each 
other, at the identical place where the favourite dog 
and the old domestic met their returning long lost 

' But oh ! What joy, what mighty ecstasy. 
Possess' d her soul at this discovery ! 
Speechless and panting at his feet she lay. 
And short-breath' d sighs told what she could not say. 
Nine thousand times his hands she kissed and pres't. 
And look'd such darts as none could ere resist. 
Silent they gazed, his eyes met hers with tears 
Of joy — while love and shame suffused hers.' 
" I have seen this account in manuscript belonging to 
Sir Joseph Radcliffe, of Mills Bridge, near Huddersfield, 
wrote, I believe, by the hand of Thomas Percival, Esq., 
of Royton, and this account also, with some variations, 
has been subsequently communicated to me by a 
friend connected with the late Mr. Meredith, of Liverpool, 
who belonged, when living, to the Order of the Conclave 
before-mentioned, and was, when living, one of the 
finest antiquaries of his time as a country man." 

So much, therefore, for the tradition of the ancient 
monument inMottram Church according toButterworth. 


It has been the privilege of the writer to see and 
examine a number of these ancient efhgies in various 
parts of the country. Local antiquaries have expressed 
the opinion that the Stayley monument must have 
originally been placed in the ancient grave-yard, and 
that it received periodical coatings of whitewash, 
which formed a crust upon its surface. The exposure 
of the old monument to the searching atm.ospheric 
effects which are to be encountered in the bleak church- 
yard would not add to the preservation of the historic 

We can look upon the stony figures as they appear 
weird and silent in the dim religious light, and our 
minds are tarried back to the times of " Chivalrous 
Knights in armour bright." But alas ! the dust of 
those knights may even now be mingling with that 
of their vassals and serfs in the silent church-yard 


The ancient chapel of the Staveleigh family still 
exists in Mottram Church, and is dealt with by a 
reliable writer as follows : — 

" The south chapel, formerly attached to the manor 
of Stayley, is now the property of the trustees of the 
late Edward Chapman, Esq., having been acquired by 
the late John Chapman, Esq., about i860, and has 
since been restored and inclosed with oak screen-work. 
In this chapel, against the wall, is an altar tomb with 
recumbent effigies of a Knight and Lady representing 


Sir Ralph de vStavele}', or Staley, temp. Hen. IV., and 
his wife. The figure of the knight is in plate armour, 
with a conical bascinet, and his wife is attired in a high 
collared gown with sleeves ; both wear collars of SS, 
and at their feet are dogs." 

The collar badges of SS, referred to above, were in- 
troduced by Henry IV., and are believed to be the 
initial letters of his motto " Soveraygne." 

The gem of Mottram Church from the antiquarian's 
point of view is undoubtedly the ancient Norman Font 
now placed near the South door. It is the only relic 
we possess of the Church which existed on this site in 
1291, and it has brought to Mottram many enthusiasts 
from all parts of the country, who find an excellent 
and ever willing guide in the person of the present 
Vicar, the Rev. W. A. Pemberton, M.A. 

Various traditionary and legendary tales have been 
written in connection with the ancient monuments 
mentioned, and it is with mixed feelings that the 
pilgrim to Mottram Church, after treading the aisle, 
peers through the screen at the motionless representa- 
tives of " Old Ro and his wife." 

Early Records of the Vale — Robertus de Rasbotham — John 
of Heghrode — Flaxfield— Clearance of Timber — Staley- Wood. 

" Fortunately we have friends in the antiquarian court." 

Richard Wright Procter. 

HE earliest records of the Vale of Staley are 
inseparable from the names of Sir Ralph de 



Stayley, Robert de Hough, John del Heghrode, and 
Robertus de Rasbotham. 

Fortunately there is in existence the ancient rent 
roll, or a copy thereof, of Sir John de Assheton, dated 
1422, in the reign of Henry VI. 

From this record we find the names of Rasbotham, 
Heghrode, Aries, and Woodfield existed four hundred 
and eighty-five years ago. 

Not only are the names of the various tenants given, 
but also the acreage and amount of money, or service 
required for the use and possession of the land per 
annum. A table of comparison in the value of money 
then and now would be interesting. We quote from 
the records as under : — 

Robert of the Rasbotham, for the Rasbotham 
William of the Woodfield, for the Erles (Arlies) 
John of Heyrode, for an intake at Bastall 
The same John, for William Ffield 
John of Heyrode, for his tenement 
The Heir of Thomas of Staveley, for the Bastal 
The same Heir of Staveley, and the Heir of 
Thomas of Trafford, and others, for Assheton 
Lands and Palden Woods - - -40 

Nearly two hundred years after, viz., 1618, there'was 
" an assessment lay'd and appointed in the fifteenth 
year of the reign of James the First." Under the 
heading of *' Hartshead " there are several items 
connected with this district, and one in particular is in- 
teresting since we have known the direct descendants 
of the tenant named, 

Nicholas Lilley, 18 acres 1 ^ ^^ 

More in Common, 6 J 










In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the occupa- 
tion of the people, in addition to agriculture, was flax 
dressing, and as Ashton-under-Lyne was a centre or 
market for flax dealing, it must have been an important 
industry. The name of Flax-field is familiar, and 
occasionally the delicate bloom of a little plant has 
been gathered in the pastures near the farmstead, 
which botanists have pronounced to be the flower of 
the flax. 

The Vale of Staley is described by one historian as 
" The native place of the prime oak, towering on high ; 
the stately monarch of the forest, lofty as the taper 
pine, ' fit for the mast of some great admiral, ' or, 
rather destined for ribs to bear on the broad and 
magnificent bosom of the ocean the British thunder 
in after ages. These stately monarchs overspread this 
part of the country." 

A description of the vale in 1785 simplifies the 
meaning of the term Staley- Wood : 

" Such was the beautiful scenery of this valley in 
the spring and summer months, that it quite astonished 
the visitor, or well-informed stranger. . . . For 
many years nature had been very lavish in adorning 
and beautifying the Vale. The fine hedgerows and 
lofty timber in the woods, with underwood of holly, 
hazel, crab and blackberry, were tenanted by the hare, 
wood fox, and squirrel, and at certain times of the year 
with flocks of stock- doves and birds of prey. . . . 
Within a period of 18 years (1784- 1802) there have been 
three heavy falls of timber on the Earl of Stamford's 


estates in the Parish of Ashton-under-Lyne and the 
townships of Stayley, Matley, and Hattersley. The 
last great fall was about the year 1802, and in the 
spring of that year the greatest part of the timber was 
cleared away and sent to Liverpool for shipbuilding 

purposes It was calculated that the 

Earl would make ' the amazing sum of £70,000 from 
the produce of that sale !* " 

Shortly after this clearance of timber the explorer, 
John Bradbury, visited his old home at Souracre, and 
he is said to have complained of the spoliation of the 
forest, remarking *' that had it not been for the shape 
of the hills he would scarcely have known the place 
where he was born." 

Eighty years ago (1827), the description published 
of Staley-Wood is as follows : — 

" The wood between Mossley and Staleybridge, the 
sylvan beauty of which renders truly romantic Scout 
Mill, Heyrod Hall and parts adjacent, is also worthy 
of particular notice." 

The Old Halls and Folds— Stayley Hall— Heyrod Hall 
Castle Hall— Hollins Hall— Gorse Hall— Harridge Hall. 

"When we pine for a missing link of any description, we have only to seek 

and we shall find ; but we must delve deeply into the sand which 

the great Traveller sheds from his hour-glass." 

Richard Wright Procter. 



HE ancient home of the Staveleighs is the oldest 
structure in the vicinity. It has been claimed that 


its date of erection was the middle part of the reign of 
Queen Elizabeth, A.D. 1580. A well-known local 
enthusiast in antiquarian matters, however, fixes its 
date as the latter part of the reign of Charles I., or the 
early years of the sovereignty of Charles 11. One 
thing is certain, that the present building stands on a 
site previously used, and moreover contains in its 
construction much material which has seen service 
in some earlier building or buildings previous to the 
erection of the present one. 

In Aiken's '' History of the Country Forty Miles 
Round Manchester," there is a very fine engraving 
from a painting evidently executed about 1793. Little 
change is apparent to-day, save that the foliage depicted 
in the rear of the building has passed away, to its 
detriment in an artistic sense. 

The additional modern farm buildings call for little 
attention, the interest historically being in the old 
Hall itself. The frontage is characteristic of the days 
of the Cavaliers and Roundheads, its formation being 
somewhat remarkable in the possession of five gables. 

Perhaps the best description that ever came before 
our notice is the one from which the following extract 
is taken. 

" The Hall is built of stone parpoints, or flag stones, 
quoined with tooled ashlar at the angles, and covered 

with grit-slate or shingles The mouldings 

of the string cornice supporting the roof date back to 
the early part of the seventeenth century. . . . The 
southern front, the one now under notice, comprises 


five gabled bays, the centre one deeply recessed, whilst 
the adjoining ones on each side are somewhat advanced, 

and lineable with each other The eaves 

somewhat project beyond the walls ; but gone are 
the barge boards and the gable finals, once doubtless 
ornamenting the structure. With three exceptions, 
which will be noticed, there is one window, and no 
more, in each storey of every bay. . . . The 
windows are destitute of transoms, but are divided 
into several lights by strong mullions with hollow 

" The centre bay displays a window of four lights 
on the ground storey, a similar one in the next, and one 
of two divisions in the uppermost. 

" In the bay to the east of it the two lower storeys 
have windows of three lights each, with an ' owl hole ' 
in the third, and a sub-entrance in its western face. 
. . . . The corresponding bay on the opposite side 
of the centre part is similarly treated in the upper 
storeys, but in the lower one is dignified with the 
principal entrance door under a capacious archway. 
The two extreme bays have each five light windows 
in the two lower storeys, and two light ones in the 
highest apartments. The main entrance door is massive 
in size, and made of stout oaken planks, with ribs placed 
over the joints, in order to keep out the cold and add 
to the ornament imparted by clout-headed nails driven 
in rows placed in diagonal style." Such then is a 
quotation from a description of the ancient building, 
written more than a generation ago, unquestionably 


by a person of experience and talent. In proof of 
the statement and belief of the existence of earlier 
buildings on the same site, we submit the following 
gleaning : — 

** Whilst examining the left wing, it was quite 
apparent that a considerable number of joists had 
previously done duty in some other building, probably 
the predecessor of the present one, and had formed 
portions of the framework of some internal partition, 
or * twining,' or division wall. This was clear enough 
from one side having the usual triangular grooving, 
and the other the shallow holes in which the railings 
and wicker-work were fixed previous to filling up with 
daub or clay plaster. 

" The roof of this gable is divided into four bays by 
three trusses. The principals of two of these trusses 
are ornamented with rude angular mouldings, and 
morticed for the reception of braces, which have once 
formed a semi-circular or pointed arch within the 
principals. It is quite evident that these timbers have 
once figured as the roof- timbers of the Great Hall, 
in a much more ancient structure than the present one. 
The braces, which imparted an ornamental character, 
to them, have been cut out, as they would have been 
in the way when placed in their present position." 

On the strength of the belief of bygone antiquarians, 
who it appears thoroughly overhauled the ancient place, 
it would appear that when the splendour of Stayley 
Hall as a family residence declined, it fell into disuse, 
and many of its apartments became unnecessary. The 


result was that the occupiers from time to time made 
free use of the old oaken panelling and partitions — 
even of the room floorings — for fuel or other purposes. 
That such a course of proceedings was vandalism, in 
the eyes of all lovers of the antique, is but a mild way 
of expressing it. Again, the effect of time, atmosphere, 
and the weather generally leaves inevitable imprints, 
the more so in cases like that of Stayley Hall, for 
standing as it does in a bleak position exposed and 
unsheltered, it must have borne the brunt of a 
thousand storms and tempests. 

The site has been compared with that of the Roman 
fort " Melandra," in the Vale of Longdendale, and 
there is a certain amount of similarity in their respective 

Stayley Hall crowns a huge mound of natural forma- 
tion, three of its sides shaped hke a strong " bastion," 
whilst the fourth could have easily been protected and 
guarded, at short notice, by a ditch or moat. It is 
quite within the range of possibility that the spot was 
selected by the warriors of old on account of its many 
advantages in a mihtary sense. 

The requirements of the people in modern times 
have resulted in great changes, naturally and com- 
mercially, and the days of " chivalry " are now things 
of the past. 

Millbrook, marked on the old maps of the eighteenth 
century as Stayley Mill, may owe its name to the fact 
that an ancient corn mill stood by the streamlet's side, 
at which the tenants and servants would grind their 


corn, according to the custom of the Manor. The 
local names, Flax-field, Swineshaw, Cops-field, Crows- 
i'th'-Wood, and Ditch-Croft, all seem to savour some- 
what of the days of long ago. Before quitting the 
subject, it may be of interest to refer to the origin and 
reason for the '' owl holes " mentioned in this article. 
Long years ago, corn was very extensively grown in 
this neighbourhood, and stored in the capacious 
granaries and barns, until required. As a natural result, 
hosts of field mice and swarms of barn rats made serious 
inroads on the farmers' stock. 

John Bull, however, was alive to the fact that the 
pest had its remedy in the sense that the common owl 
is the natural enemy of all four-footed vermin. Thus 
it came about that owls were encouraged about the old 
farmsteads ; and means of ingress and egress made for their 
special convenience. Under the protection of the farmer, 
owls became almost domesticated, and formed a 
necessary part of the homestead's live-stock. Several 
breeds of owls were known to exist in this district thirty 
years ago, and within the last three years a fine 
male specimen of the horned owl was shot on the banks 
of the Tame. 


The historian Butterworth refers to Heyrod Hall as 
follows : — " Heyrod Hall, now in the occupation of 
Messrs. Lawton and Shelmerdine, is an ancient estate 
situated to the N.E. of Staley-Bridge, on the border 
of the Tame ; on the front of the hall are the following 


initials and date, ' R.W., 1638.' In the first year of the 
reign of Henry VI. (1422) it appears to have belonged 
to John del Heyrod, paying something to the Lord of 
the Manor, Sir John de Assheton, after which date it 
passed into the family of the ' Dukinfields of Dukinfield,' 
and was purchased from them by the family of Shelmer- 
dine, who have resided there one hundred and fifty 
years." The Old Hall was demohshed about 1845. 

" There is a woollen mill situated on this estate 
belonging to Messrs. Lawton and Shelmerdine, remark- 
able as one of the only two in the parish of Ashton 


Shortly after the foregoing was written Heyrod Hall 
Estate passed into the possession of the Ouseys. When 
the railway was constructed through the estate, about 
1843, the company bought it, and afterwards, on the 
completion of the line, sold it back to the original owners. 


Gorse Hall, which gives the name to the estate long 
connected with the family of the " Leech's," and now in 
the occupation of G. H. Storrs, Esq., is said to have been 
so-called from the abundance of gorse which formerly 
grew on the hill slopes thereabouts. The mansion 
known as Gorse Hall was erected by John Leech, Esq., 
but the ancient or Old Gorse Hall, which is now used as 
cottages, belongs to a bygone period of which we have 
been unable to find the date. 



Harridge Hall is a building of the type now fast 
disappearing, and is situated on the line of the old 
Roman road on the fringe of Harridge Moor, near Carr 
Brook, and is marked on the ordnance maps. 


Probably the oldest building in the town of Staly- 
bridge is the ancient structure near the Central Co- 
operative Stores, in Grosvenor Street. Its venerable 
and old-time appearance has often commanded the 
attention of local antiquarians. The land in front, 
now a portion of Grosvenor Street, is marked on the 
old deeds as " Barn Meadow," 


Castle Hall, from whence the district so-cahed, of 
Stalybridge, takes its name, is still remembered by some 
of the aged residents. It is referred to by the historian 
Butterworth in his book, published 1823, p. 124, as 
follows : — " The house occupied at present by Mr. Lees 
at Staley-Bridge ; .... its former name they say 
was Castle-HiU, it is seated on the top of a steep rock, 
on the Cheshire side, impending over the River Tame, 
which forms a sort of natural cascade as it falls from the 
detached and broken rocks beneath. 

" The present house alluded to, they say, was built 
by William Dukinfield, and re-sold to a Mr. Kenworthy, 
but is now the property of a Mr. Lees." 


William Dukinfield died in 1735, and there is on the 
south side of the Old Chapel, Dukinfield, a fine altar- 
tomb erected to his memory, with a suitable inscription. 
Tradition says that William Dukinfield erected his 
mansion on the site of a still earlier residence. 

The following description of the old Hall is preserved : 
" Castle Hall, a building which stood close to the river's 
edge, on a site near the present Market Hall. It w^as a 
castellated mansion, and its turret will always have an 
abiding recollection for me. The style of architecture 
was Elizabethan, although not quite correct in all its 
details. It had a comfortable and handsome appearance, 
and, standing as it did in a comparatively secluded spot, 
it gave one the impression of a substantial and at the 
same time cosy home." Castle Hall was demolished in 

Hollins Old Hall was part of the residence of the 
late Mr. Stephens, and formed the kitchen premises, 
" Prior to its renovation this old building was overhauled 
and unroofed. Under the grey flag*slates was found a 
mixture of clay, chopped straw, etc., several inches in 
thickness, and on its removal the rafters, which were of 
sound oak, were exposed. The walls were formed of 
massive beams, morticed and jointed. Stout pegs were 
driven through the tenons. Long sticks or branches 
of ash were fixed into the spaces, and these were again 
crossed by others, forming a crate-like frame. These 
were filled in with raddle and daub, and this completed 



the walls of the house. It would appear that Hollins 
Hall owes its origin to the days of the half-timbered 
erections. Up to the period of 1850 a very fine yew tree 
flourished in the garden of Hollins Hall ; it was, however, 
cut down, and the timber was found to be in excellent 
condition, although there is no telling how old the tree 

The ancient building still exists, and is worth the 
notice of the lover of old-time memorials. 


After the Restoration of Charles IL, when the sounds 
of strife had ceased and peace had become permanent, 
the daring spirits who had been busy either with the 
Cavaliers or the Roundheads as soldiers, found them- 
selves without occupation. Tradition says that from 
this source there originated gangs of freebooters, bold, 
hard}.' fellows, who thought little of the eighth command- 
ment, and who had few scruples as to whose cattle, 
sheep, or horses they confiscated — " all was fish that 
came to their net." The farmers of that period believed 
in the adage " Prevention is better than cure," and in 
order to protect their livestock, as well as for their own 
safety, they erected strong and substantial buildings, 
which were called " Folds," usually having the name of 
their owner prefixed. Generally there was a house for 
the master, with cottages for the dependants, and 
housings, barns, and shippons for the stock. There are 
still several fine examples of these venerable strongholds 
in the neighbourhood. It was the custom at this period 


for the male members of the family to sleep with fire- 
arms or other weapons of defence underneath their 

The principal folds in this district, some of which have 
been demolished, were as follows : — ^Lilley Fold, Ridge 
Hill Lane, (1625) demolished ; Higher Fold, a fine stone 
house wath muhioned windows, entrance hall, and "owl- 
holes," dated 1700, demolished 1902 ; Flatt's Fold, Cock 
Brook, site of Tennis Ground, demolished about 1880 ; 
Hyde's Fold, demolished for the erection of Town Hall 
1829 ; Sidebottom Fold, shown on old maps of 1794 ; 
Bradley Fold, Huddersfield Road ; Kinder Fold, 
Mottram Old Road ; Heyrod Fold, Heyrod ; Souracre 
Fold, Far Souracre ; Higham Fold, Park Hall ; Bower 
Fold, Mottram Road, and others. The fine old home- 
stead, The Ashes, Mottram Old Road, is veritably the 
last of its kind in this district ; it was built in the troubl- 
ous times of the early part of the eighteenth century, 
and there is a local tradition connecting it with the 
Scotch Rebellion. 


(T^apter 6. 

'The Old Bridle-paths— The Roman Roads— The King's High- 
way— The Turnpike Road — Toll-bars — The old River Ford— The 
First Bridge — Present Bridges. 

" The thoroughfares or byways outHned upon our primitive maps, or 

described in our earliest chronicles, are landmarks 

to the historical student." 


i I VCORDING to the historian Whittaker, we learn 
fj i M t that " a Roman Station was fixed at Stockport, 
and that a branch of road therefrom extended into the 
parish of Ashton-under-Lyne, near the foot of Staley- 
Bridge, which was the third road from the said station, 
and is denominated Staley Street for a mile together." 
Staley Street to-day commences near the Glent Quarry, 
Wakefield Road, and leads to the top of Ridge Hill. 
The upper surface of the out-cropping rock forms the 
floor of the road in a great many places. It is interesting 
to look across the vale from the elevation of Early Bank 
Road or from Mottram Old Road, and vice versa. There 
have been found traces of Roman roads on the Dukinfield 
estate at various times, and local antiquarians believe 
that a Roman road came from the direction of Dukinfield 
Old HaU towards Stalybridge, as if to form a connection 
with the old road known as Ridge Hill Lane, which is 
said to commence really near the Bridge Inn, Water 
Road. The Roman road from Werneth Low^ which 
passes through Hattersley and Matley, and along the 
western slope of Harrop Edge, joins the ancient road 
from Melandra Castle, near the deep cutting. 


From thence it passes on to Gallows Clough, where 
traces may be seen of a very ancient road now in disuse. 
Gallows Clough is situated at four road ends. The 
Roman road at this place leads close to the edge of the 
moorland. Mottram Old Road is the ancient track which 
winds down to the former river ford at Portland Place. 
One reason given for the construction of the line of road 
along the moor edge is that it was above the line of 
timber-growth, and in the far-off times, when the roads 
were made, the vale would, it is assumed, be a dense 
forest of thick underwood and massive trees, the 
sheltering place and abode of wild beasts and wilder 
men. The Roman soldiers made their roads where they 
would not become choked with trees and vegetation, a 
fact which is soon apparent on visiting any place where 
vestiges of their work are to be seen. 

The eye of the antiquarian soon detects the signs of 
old roadways, and if a map were prepared of the country 
about Stalybridge deahng with the old bridle-paths and 
pack-horse roads, it would be invaluable and interesting. 

To-day the roads as used in bygone times are of 
little service, except now and then to trace out some 
demolished hill-side homestead. A very ancient road 
leading from Mouselow to Bucton may be traced by the 
indent in the purple ridge of the moor as it shows against 
the sky-line when looking north-west from Hadfield oi 
Padfield. Many of these points and facts were shown 
to the writer by the late Isaac Watt Boulton, Esq., 
who was one of the best local topographers of his day 
and generation. The old roads left by the Romans 


remained the principal arteries of traffic until the reign 
of Queen Anne. Little was done in the shape of repair 
except when the King and his retinue passed through 
the district. Upon such occasions the route taken 
would be put in order, the ruts levelled, and the brush- 
wood or timber cleared. The ancient fords and bridges 
would be made passable, thus obtaining for the roads 
receiving attention the title of the "King's Highway." 
About the year 1700 attempts were made to improve 
the roads, but it was not until near the end of the century 
that Parliament tackled the question. Subsequently 
Acts were passed by the Government for the making 
of new roads, and the diverting and mending of old 
ones. District trusts were formed, with powers to erect 
gates and barriers, and to take toll from persons using 
such roads ; this was the inauguration of the " Turnpike 
Roads." Highway Acts came into operation authorising 
parishes and townships to appoint surveyors, whose 
duties included the supervision of the construction of 
the roads, and the collection in their respective districts 
of the rates and taxes. Counties and hundreds had the 
power to erect bridges over the rivers, where needful. 
The improvement of the roads enabled the pack-saddle 
and pillion to be discarded, and the stage-coach, with 
its postillion, guard, and driver appeared. We have no 
authentic record of highwaymen and their exploits in 
this locality, although the lonehness of the outskirts 
might have aided their schemes. The name of " Gallows 
Clough " is suggestive enough, coupled with its location. 
The well-remembered " Toll-bars " of Heyrod, Copley 


and the " Sand Mill " at the Deep Cutting have dis- 
appeared in our own time, though the houses of the 
gatekeepers at Heyrod and Copley still exist. 

The oldest turnpike road in this district is inferred to 
be that now known as Huddersfield Road. According 
to Aiken it was being completed, or had just been 
completed, at the time when his book was in the press, 


Quoting from a newspaper cutting dated 1862-3, we 
have the following interesting statement : — " Eighty 
years ago, and within my own recollection, the roads 
from Manchester, Ashton, Stockport, etc., were in the 
most wretched condition. Over the ranges of the hills 
to the south-western counties, the transit of goods 
between this county and those districts was by pack- 
horse. I can well remember one gang of pack-horses 
passing through this village (Stalybridge) to south York- 
shire, Nottingham, and Lincoln. To the best of my re- 
collection this was eighty years ago this last summer. 
As I advanced in years I was often told that this was 
the last gang that passed this way. The roads began to 
be improved, and stage waggons and carts for the 
purpose of sending goods to Lancashire and Cumberland 
and the eastern counties took the place of pack-horses. 
A coach road was made in the latter part of the i8th 
or very early years of the 19th century, from the 
junction of Old Mottram Road and the present Mottram 
Road. This road came through the lands now forming 
the " Woodlands " and " Foxhill " estates. A portion 
of the old road is still discernable as the pedestrian 


ascends Mottram Road, a little way above the "Wood- 

The " Deep Cutting " was made when the Manchester 
and Saltersbrook turnpike road was formed, and was 
completed about the year 1825-6, and it is said occupied 
about 12 years in its construction. 


The River Bridge at Portland Place is the third of 
which there is any record. 

The ancient road through the village crossed the river 
at this place as a ford, the remains of its approach may 
be seen on the Lancashire side. Old residents speak of 
its having been paved ; be that as it may, soon after the 
year 1600, a bridge was erected, which gave to the 
village the name of Staley-bridge. 

In 1707 a very substantial erection of two arches was 
built by the land owners on either side of the stream, 
the date stone, with their initials or those of their 
predecessors being fixed in the pillar near the iron 
palisades. This stone forms part of the present 
structure on the Cheshire side. 

About the year 1787 a bridge was erected by Mr. 
Astley, near the Bridge Inn, and was in existence until 
about 1845, when the iron-sided bridge of our own 
time replaced it. The present bridge at this place is the 

The iron bridge in Melbourne Street was erected 
about 1834, t>ut only as a roadway for vehicles, the 


footpaths were added later. About 1865 the bridge 
was altered and improved to its present state. 

Victoria Bridge was first erected in 1869, and has since 
been improved. 

Bayley Street Bridge was built in 1854, ^^ connection 
with the new line of road to Ashton. 

Flatt's Bridge replaced a primitive structure which 
was washed away by a flood. 

The wooden bridge at Crookbottom is a private one, 
as is also the bridge at North End ; another bridge of 
this class formerly existed near the paper mill. 


Early Industries. 
(T Rafter L 

The Advent of Mechanical Industry — The Old Hand-Loom and 
the Single-Spindle — List of Farmers, Weavers, and Residents 1770 

" It is not in the dis-interment of facts, but in the manner in which they 
take life and colour that originality exists." 

Bulwer Lytton. 

IN the year 1700, a cottage in the village with a 
convenient loom-house, and a small garden in 
which there could be grown vegetables, etc., sufficient 
for a family, could be had at a rental of one and a 
half or two guineas per annum. 

Wool- weaving and farming were carried on conjointly, 
the farm receiving attention when necessary, the 
remaining portion of the time being utilised in the 

The average earnings of a weaver-farmer, apart from 
the income from his farming, varied from 8s. to los. 6d. 
per week, whilst his sons, under his supervision and 
guidance, could earn from 6s. to 8s. per week. 

The wives and daughters were employed on the hand- 
spinning wheel, by which process the work for one weaver 


required the services of six or eight spinners, thus a 
great number of persons were requisite to keep up a 
supply of yarn. 

Spinning by this means was not a hard or laborious 
occupation, so that the aged people, whose eyesight 
and faculties remained unimpaired, were enabled to earn 
sufficient for their wants. 

The high three-storeyed buildings so familiar, even 
to-day, on the outskirts of the town were built for the 
purpose of woollen manufacture, frequently with a 
staircase, or steps, outside the main building. Often 
enough a farmer would have four or more looms in his 
house, whilst others, who found occupation for their 
neighbours, had as many as a dozen. The scarcity of 
yarn would occasionally make it necessary for the 
weaver to walk several miles, from cottage to cottage, 
collecting his supply for the day's work. 

The fly-shuttle was now becoming known in the 
district, the invention of John Kay, of Bury, who, by 
his genius, solved a problem which had puzzled the brain 
of man for ages, and who, as a reward for his ingenuity, 
was allowed in after years to die in poverty and 
obscurity in a foreign land. Kay's invention enabled 
the hand-loom weaver to earn double the wages he had 
been getting when the shuttle was thrown by hand 
through the meshes of the texture from one side of the 
loom to the other. The cloth was better, the labour 
lighter. Then came the invention of the "eight-handed 
spinster"; a better supply of weft immediately followed,, 
with increased profit for the weaver. 


At this period, 1770, weavers were happy men, and 
as a consequence of their prosperity hand-looms were 
erected in almost every home in the district. 

The price for weaving a piece of cloth 24 yards long 
was about four guineas. 

The weavers of Stalybridge " were gentlemen, wore 
top boots, ruffled shirts, and carried canes when they 
walked abroad. They became a class of themselves, 
met in the village Inn, smoked none but churchwarden 
pipes, and excluded from their presence and company 
the society of other workmen." 

The following list has been compiled from various 
sources, parish registers, family documents, etc., and 
may be relied upon as representative of the names of 
the heads of the families who lived in the vale of Stayley 
in the year 1770. 

The names of many well-known local families will 
be noticed, and there will doubtless be a large number 
omitted, as the list is far from being complete. 

Instead of being the unimportant place which it 
appears to have been considered by some writers, 
Stalybridge must have been a typically prosperous 
Lancashire village: — 

Adshead Edward Booth Thomas Cook Joseph 
Ainsworth George Buckley John Cook James 
Antrobus John Buckley Benjamin Cook John 
Bates Samuel Buckley James Cook Abraham 
Bardsley Jonas Buckley Joshua Cocker John 
BradburyEdward Cheetham Elijah Crabtree John 
Booth Edward Cook Samuel Dean Samuel 



Dewsnap James Kenworthy Wm. Miller Isaac 
EvansRev.Thomas Kenworthy James Ogden James 

Ellison Robert 
Gatlay John , 
Hadfield John 
Hadfield Robert 
Hague John 
Hall James 
Hall Joseph 
Hall Neddy 

Kenworthy John 
Kershaw Hugh 
Kinder Samuel 
Kinder John 
Kinder James 
Knight George 
Knight William 
Knott Jonas 

Hampson Thomas Lawton Jarvis 
Heap Robert Lawton John 

Heginbotham J as. Lees Henry 
Hilton Edward Lees Thomas 
Hilton Jeffrey Lilley John 
Holden John Lilley Nicholas 
Hollinworth John Lingard Joshua 

Howard John 
Howard William 
Hyde Jonathan 
Hyde Thomas 
Judson Randle 

Marsland Daniel 
Marsland Samuel 
Marvel John 
Mellor John 

Orrell John 
Ousey James 
Ousey John 
Piatt Absalom 
Saxon Samuel 
Shelmerdine J ames 
Shepley Thomas 
Sidebottom Thos. 
Slater Joseph 
Slade Abel 
Stansfield John 
Swanwick Philip 
Taylor John 
Taylor William 
Walker John 
Walton Isaac 
Whitehead Robert 


(ri)apter 2. 

The Introduction of Motive Power — The Dog-wheel — The 
Horse-gin —The Water-wheel — The Steam Engine. 

" Facts are open to all men. They are the brick-earth upon the common- 
land, from which, by right immemorial, each man may 
build his castle or his cottage." 

Btd'iVer Lytton. 

' / I ' WRITER of the latter part of the eighteenth 
^ t ' t century, referring to Stalybridge, says " the 
place was famous for a great length of time for weavers, 
dyers, and pressers of woollen cloth. These branches 
flourished in the commencement of the present century 
(1700), so that here v/as the western verge of the 
woollen manufacture, which extended through the vales 
of the Tame and the Etherow. In 1748 the principal 
employment of the inhabitants was the spinning of 
worsted yarn for the Nottingham hosiers, but the 
cotton trade existed in a slight degree in its 
domestic stage. At this time, a single dyer monopolised 
all the trade in his line with the aid of two mastiff dogs, 
who were made to grind the wires by turning a sort of 
canine tread mill, similar in construction to those in 
which squirrels are sometimes placed, and to which a 
piece of grinding machinery was attached. At the period 
alluded to, the number of houses was about fifty-four, 
and the inhabitants amounted to one hundred and 
forty." About the year 1750 there existed several 
small water mills along the banks of the river, and 
the power of the stream was thus harnessed and utilised. 
Tradition tells of a " Higher Mill " and a " Lower Mill " 


which existed at this time, the former on the site of the 
present paper mill, the latter on the opposite side of 
the river, where the railway viaduct crosses. The 
ancient corn mill, in Old Street, was of this date. A 
three-storeyed mill, worked by a " horse gin," existed 
in Ridge Hill Lane ; it was afterwards converted into 
cottages, the tenements being finally demolished about 
fifty years ago, the site being still spoken of as the 
" mill hole." As the spot would be at the head of the 
well known " Swanwick Clough," it may have been 
the mill belonging to Messrs. Swanwick and Slater. 

The steam engine made its appearance in the village 
a few years after its invention, and long before most 
of the neighbouring towns and villages were aware of 
its powers and advantages, and is thus referred to : — 
** About 1796 the first steam engine erected here (one 
of six horse-power) was introduced into Messrs. Hall's 
mill, by Mr. N. Hall." 

The only existing description of this historical engine 
is the one given by Robert Piatt, Esq., on the occasion 
of his laying the foundation stone of the Public Baths, 
on the 24th October, 1868, when, in the course of his 
speech, he said : "I well recollect the rough, uncouth 
engine, with its wooden beam, which was simply a square 
log of Baltic timber, such as you may see in Mr. Storrs' 
or other timber yards. . . . Many and many a 
time, when I was a little boy, have I ridden on that old 

Five years after the advent of steam-power at Messrs. 
Halls, the firm of Messrs. Lees, Cheetham and Co. 


erected an engine of 40 horse-power to work their 
cotton mill. The mill was known as the " Bastile," 
and was destroyed by fire in 1804. 

The engine was afterwards removed to the " Bowling 
Green Mills, where it was in existence until about 
1859, when Albert Hall, Esq., added a new engine-house 
and engines to his mills. 

Water-power was a great factor in the early days of 
the local manufacturers, and even to-day the use and 
advantage of the water-wheel are well known and 

The early spinning frames were known as water- 
frames, because they were turned by the aid of water- 
wheels ; hence the reason why the early mills were 
generally located by the side of the river, or near a gully 
which might be converted into a reservoir, fed from a 
running stream. 

The Early Spinning Mills — Primitiv^e Carding — The First 
Jennies and Water Frames in the Town — Early Carding and 
Preparation — The Working Hours. 

" The records we glean of the buried past may be found of sufficient 
interest .... for these memorial pages." 

Richard Wright Procter. 

V I 'CCORDING to the facts recorded : " In 1763, 
^ i * » cotton-spinning and weaving were becom- 
ing common in the cottage garrets and shops. The 
first cotton mill was erected by a person of the name 
of Hall, in which carding was performed by water- 


power, and spinning by hand." This mill was afterwards 
known as the " Soot-poke Mill," on account of the high 
chimney which was built for a smoke-shaft on the 
advent of the steam-engine twenty years later, and the 
reference to the place is as follows : "It was situated 
at the end of Wood Street, where now stands the 
railway arch used as a smithy, at the bottom of Rass- 
bottom Brow. Behind the mill was the dam from which 
it was worked, which was supplied from the stream of 
water which still flows from Ridge Hill. When the 
* Soot-poke ' ceased to be used as a factory, a part of 
it was let to a chandler, another portion to a wheel- 
wright, and the top room for a theatre. The latter was 
under the management of the ' Thornhill Family,' and 
on the 29th May, 1824, it caught fire, just after the 
conclusion of a performance, in which gunpowder and 
fireworks had been freely used. The fire was got out, 
but the building afterwards became very much 
dilapidated, and was ultimately pulled down to prevent 
it from falling." 

Arkwright, the pioneer of mill building, erected a 
mill at Nottingham in 1769, and in 1771 he built a 
second, at Cromford, in Derbyshire. Five years later, 
1776, the village of Stalybridge possessed a cotton mill, 
which may be claimed to° have been one of, if not the 
verv first in Lancashire. 


From old-time records we quote as follows : "I was 



set to work at the tender age of seven years (1785), and 
never had the chance of going to school after. My 
father had a couple of spinning jennies, one of 20 spindles 
and the other of 30 spindles, and I was set to work at 
one of them as a piecer. Some time after, I was sent 
to feed a cotton engine at the old mill in Old Street, 
in this town. Shortly after this, the drawing-frame was 
set to work by power, and I was taken from the cotton- 
engine and put to work at the first drawing-frame 
turned by power in this town. I was nearly two years 
at this work, and then became a piecer for my elder 
brother on a mule jenny belonging to James and Edward 
Adshead, who had some of the first mules in this town. 
I was in this situation about two years, when my father 
bought a couple of mules. My father and brother were 
making money rapidly, but at the breaking out of the 
French war a general panic set in, which was the ruin 
of three-fourths of those who had embarked in the 
business ; in short, all went to ruin except those who 
had the means of having their machinery turned by 
power. The year 1793 was the most distressing period 
ever known by the oldest living." 

The carding of cotton was done by using hand-cards 
up to the middle of the eighteenth century. Several 
attempts had been made, but without success, to do 
the work mechanically ; the year 1772 saw the problem 
solved, by a Manchester man named John Lees, and a 
few years later the primitive engine was in use in 


A quaint, yet valuable echo from those bygone times, 
dealing with spinning and carding, runs thus : — 

" The first spinning jenny ever I remember had 12 
spindles, and my father worked upon it. I became a 
spinner myself soon after rollers were invented. I 
remember the time very well, because, not being big 
enough, my father pulled the chamber door off its 
hinges and put it so that I could reach far enough. 

" I remember the time when cotton had to be washed 
at the houses of the operatives with hot water and soap, 
and then dried by the house fire. 

"It was afterwards stretched on small cards and rolled 
on a table, and then spun on a single spindle. 

" There was no machinery turned by steam or water- 
power used in the manufacture of cotton, all was done 
by shoulder work, and the carding engines of those 
days had a handle fixed to them, which was turned 
like turning an old grinding stone. ... In later 
years ... if four or five operatives would show 
themse ves m the mill yard at 3 or 4 o'clock in the 
morning, the engineer started the machinery, and 
worked it as long as three or four workpeople would 
remain about the mill at night. ... I have worked 
from 3 o'clock in the morning until 9 o'clock at night 
hundreds of times." 


Opposition to the Introduction of Machinery — " King Lud" — 
The Luddites and Mill Burners — The Luddite Oath— Anti-Luddite 
Placard — Military Intervention — Captain Raines at Roe Cross Inn 
— Executions of Luddites. 

" To the thoughful it may serve as a touchstone of reverie." 


V^^HE cotton industry once firmly inaugurated 
\r^ in the vale began to flourish and spread. 

The introduction of machinery, principally the 
power-loom, was, however, met by opposition. Violent 
measures were adopted by the dissatisfied portion of 
the people, and " King Lud " made his appearance 
in the district. 

It is recorded that the doors of the mills were kept 
locked day and night, and the hives of industry 
resembled " garrisons " rather than manufactories. 
" King Lud " was the name given to the supposed 
leader, and his followers became known as " Luddites." 


*' I, of my own voluntary will, 

do declare and swear that I will never reveal to any 
person or persons under the canopy of Heaven the 
names of any of the persons composing the secret 
committee, either by word, deed, or sign, or by address, 
marks, or complexion, or by any other thing that may 
lead to the discovery of the same, under penalty of 
being put out of the world by the first brother whom 
I would meet, and of having my name and character 


blotted out of existence. And I do further swear that 
I will use my utmost endeavours to punish with death 
any traitor or traitors who may rise up against us, 
though he should fly to the verge of existence. So help 
me God to keep this oath inviolable." 

The preceding declaration was administered to all 
who joined the Society, and youths, only in their teens, 
were " twisted in " (which was the term used for the 
ceremony) . 

To counteract the efforts of the instigators of the move- 
ment placards were printed and posted on the walls of 
the mills threatened, which read as follows : — 

" The villain who takes this oath deprives himself 
of that liberty which is the birthright of all Britons, 
deprives himself of trial by jury, and binds himself the 
willing slave of the vilest and most blood-thirsty 
assassins and incendiaries. . . . Again, this oath 
is an offence against man, as it defeats the purpose of 
human justice, and enables the assassin and murderer 
to escape with impunity, . . . because the traitors 
who have taken this oath weakly and wickedly suppose 
that it supersedes all moral and religious obligations, 
and think that such a compact which they have entered 
into releases them from any duty which they owe to 
God, their King, and their country." Military aid was 
requisitioned by the manufacturers of this district, 
and a Scotch regiment, then stationed in the southern 
part of England, was ordered to march to this neigh- 
bourhood. The Colonel of this body of troops was the 
Duke of Montrose, and although we find no record of 


his presence here, Captain Raines, who had been an 
officer in the Light Dragoons, led the soldiers into the 
district, and made the Roe Cross Inn his headquarters. 
There are in existence numerous despatches and other 
military documents dated from that place. On the 
termination of Luddite troubles, Captain Raines was 
presented with a piece of plate (valued at loo guineas) 
for his services. Many particulars with respect to these 
times will be found in the " Gentleman's Magazine" 
for 1812-13. 

The reign of terror of the Luddites began in November, 
181 1, and became contagious throughout the cotton 
districts. Gangs of armed workpeople went from place 
to place, destroying property and machinery, and even 
threatening life. Powder-looms were smashed, and mills 
were fired. The lioteis were arrested in large numbers, 
tried and convicted, some of them perishing on the 
scaffold . On June 8, 1812, eight men were executed 
tor rioting at Manchester, whilst one week later, June 
15, other 12 met a similar fate. 

On the 20th April, 1812, there were violent riots and 
disturbances at Stalybridge, whilst at Marsden, York- 
shire, on the 28th of the same month, a Mr. Horsfall 
was murdered as he was returning from Huddersfield 
market. For this crime three men were hung at York, 
on the 8th January, 1813 ; whilst eight days later, 
i6th January, fourteen others also perished in the same 
fashion. A very common expression in this district, 
in our own time, was " Aw'd stond th' drop o' York." 


Factory Life in 1814 — Treatment of Operatives — Wages — 
Pay-days — Accident to Joseph Bayley. 

" If any gleaner can add a fresh grain to the historical harvest already 

garnered, it is presumable he may bring his grain 

and be welcomed." 


I ^ROM a book published in the early part of last 
4 ^ [ century, we glean the following interesting 
reference to : 

" Work, Wages, and Factory Life in Stalybridge in 
1804," " Arrived at Stalybridge, where there were 
many spinning factories. I applied to a man named 
W. G., who had formerly been in Yorkshire, but about 
twelve years before the time I applied to him, he was 
one of the overlookers at Lowdam Mill, where he was very 
much addicted to kicking the apprentices, and dragging 
them about the rooms by the hair of the head, and 
Lhen dashing them upon the floor. ... As I was 
anxious to get work, and knowing that he was an 
overlooker at a mill popularly known as the ' Bastile,' 
I solicited work from him. . . . So to W. G. I 
repaired, and as he had bestowed so many marks of 
his parental regard upon me, he recognised me at once, 
and very kindly got me work at ten shillings a week. 
On the pay night he still more kindly drew my wages, 
from which he took what he had a mind, for my bed and 
board, so that there was little left for me, and I had 
nothing to do but work, which was very moderate, 


compared with what I had been used to at Lytton Mill. 

" I worked at this mill for some months, but not 
being satisfied with the stewardship of W. G. I took 
an early opportunity of removing from his hospitable 
roof, and the result was that I could live upon one-half 
my wages, and lay the other half by. 

" Notwithstanding the unseemly name given to the 
mill, the workpeople were not locked in the rooms as 
at the mills elsewhere. The wages paid, however, were 
very low, and the work I was on, although not anything 
equal to what I had been used to, I considered too 
heavy for the wages. I was engaged as a ' stripper ' 
of the top cards of a carding-engine, and the fixed 
quantity to turn off was six pounds a day. Some time 
after I was keeping myself, the master came up to us, 
while we were at work, and said we must either strip 
a heavier quantity of cotton per day or we must leave, 
and as I did not feel inclined to perform more work 
for the pay I was receiving I asked for my wages, 
and, having got them, left the * Bastile.' 

" After I had left, I went to Mr. Leech, the owner 
of a factory on the Cheshire side of the river — the 
Bastile being on the Lancashire side — and by him I 
was engaged at nine shillings a week. I found the 
cotton, however, so unusual to me, and the work so 
hard, that after I had been there three days I determined 
to leave. I probably should not have left when I did, 
as the first few days at a strange place are always hard, 
until the peculiarities of the cotton and machinery are 
fairly understood ; but there was another objection — 


wages were paid only once in three weeks. After three 
days' toil, I went to my master and asked him to lend 
me as much silver as my wages come to, and having 
obtained it I took * French leave,' to the great offence 
of my master. 

" I remained at Stalybridge some time, although 
unemployed, and had every opportunity of contrasting 
the factory system I had been brought up to with the 
one in my fresh surroundings. The next place I obtained 
work at was the mill of a Mr. Bayley, whose father had 
recently had one of his arms torn off by a ' blower,' 
and such were the injuries inflicted that he died in a few 
hours from the dreadful effects of that accident. I 
stopped at this place, stripping cards for eleven shillings 
a week, for many months, when, having saved a few 
pounds, I determined to try my fortune at Manchester, 
so I left the town and wended my way to the latter 


Early Cotton Masters and Trade Disturbances. 

The Pioneers of the Cotton Trade — Directory 1794-1797 — 
Early Cotton Spinners, Woollen Manufacturers, Iron Founders, 
Millwrights, and Hat Manufacturers. 

" A few years since some cotton spinners 

Settled here as new beginners, 

Small rooms they filled with looms and jennies, 

Which spun their shillings into guineas." — Old Ballad. 

" In the lottery of life the capital prizes must of necessity 
be limited to the few." 

IT was the custom for the manufacturers to meet 
their customers at one of the principal inns in 
Manchester, or Huddersfield. From various sources a 
list of Stalybridge manufacturers who had a Manchester 
address in 1794 and 1797 has been compiled : 

1794. — Cotton Manufacturers. 

Earnshaw, William ; Hatchett, J. ; Slater and Swan- 
wick ; Orrell, John. 

early cotton masters 
Cotton Spinners. 


Brierley John Hall Edward 
EarnshawWilliam Hall James 
Gartside Samuel Knott Robert 
Gregory Matthew Ousey Samuel 

Whitehead Daniel 

Ousey William 
Sidebottom Wm. 
Sidebottom James 
Whitehead Ralph 

Woollen Manufacturers. 

Buckley John 
Hall James 
Hall Robert 

Hall Joseph 
Heap Henry 
Mellor Benjamin 

Warp Makers, 

Ousey Thomas 
Wilson William. 

Cooke George Knott Daniel Kershaw John 

Heginbotham Jno.Kershaw Hugh Mellor John. 

Fogg James 

Saxton James Worthington William 

1797. — Cotton Manufacturers. 

Brierley John Knott Daniel 
EarnshawWilliam Knott D., junr. 
Hall Edward Lees Joseph 

Kershaw Hugh Lees John 
Knott Robert Lees & Chadwick 

Mellor James 
Ogden John & Co. 
Orrell John 
Ousey Samuel 
Ousey William. 

60 bygone stalybridge 

Woollen Manufacturers. 
Hall George Heap Robert Sidebottom 

Heap Joseph Lilley John Edward 

Heap William Ousey Thomas. 

Wagstaffe, Luke — Spindle Maker. 

Mellor, Benjamin — Blue Dyer. 

Piatt, John— Warp Maker. 

The termination of the Peninsular War, and the fall 
of Napoleon I. in 1815 had a marked effect upon the 
enterprise and trade of Stalybridge. The reaction from 
the troublous times of 1811-12 was great. New firms 
came into existence, and several of the old ones revived, 
whilst the machinists, ironworkers, and early engine 
builders established themselves. 

The list of manufacturers under the heading of Staly- 
bridge for the year 1818 is as follows : — 

1818. — Cotton Spinners. 
Adshead Brothers Hall James (i) Lees Thomas 
Bayley Mary Hall James (2) Mellor James 
Bayley James Harrison & Sons Orrell John 
Boyer Widow Piatt George Saxon George 

Cheetham George Lees John & Sons Smith Samuel. 
Hall James & Son Leech John 

Woollen Manufacturers. 
BuckleyJ.& Sons Hall Joseph Lawton William 

Buckley Joseph Hyde Abel Schofield Miles 

Garside Jonathan Hyde John Wilson George 

Hall George Kinder George Wilson John. 

early cotton masters 6l 

Cloth Dressers. 

Hall George Sidebottom Eliza- Smith John 

Newton John beth Walker Isaac. 

Machine Makers. 
Lawton and Roe ; Wilkinson and Hazeldine. 

Allot Moses Howard John Wagstaffe Luke. 

Binns Charles Seel Thomas 

Wainwright, Benjamin— Millwright. 



Cotton Spinners and Manufacturers. 

Bayley Mary, and Sons Harrison Thomas, and Sons 

Leech and Vaudrey Lees John, and Sons. 

Cotton Spinners. 

Adshead James and Bros. Howard James and Ralph 

Ainsworth George and Co. Orrell Thomas and Sons 

Bayley James Piatt George 

Boyer Mary Piatt Joshua 

Cheetham George Saville Joseph 

Hall James Wagstaffe and Sidebottom 

Hall James and Sons Waring John and Wilham 

Howard Daniel Wilkinson and Binns. 

62 bygone stalybridge 

Woollen Manufacturers. 

Hall George Heap Mary Shaw Hugh & Sons 

Hall Joseph Hollinworth Edwd. Stelfox and Kinder 

Millwrights and Engineers. 
Cook Joseph; Wainwright Benjamin. 

Machine Makers. 

Lawton Thomas Siddall James 

Ousey George Wilkinson James. 

Iron and Brass Founders. 

Shelter and Milburn Wainwright Benjamin. 

Hat Manufacturers. 

Andrew John Marsland Jeremiah 

Hall Joseph Turner Wilham 



Cotton Spinners. 

Marked * thus are also manufacturers by power. 
Adshead James, and Brothers, Staley New Mills, 
Baj/ley James, and Sons, Albion Mills, Huddersfield Rd. 
■•^•Bayley Wilham, and Brothers, Bridge Street Mills, 
•^•'Benson George, and Co., Kershaw Wood Mills, 


Booth and Hilton, Queen Street Mills, 
•••Cheetham Geo, & Sons, Castle Street & Bankwood Mills, 
Hall Albert and Joseph, King Street and Higher Mills, 
Hall James, and Sons, Trustees of Castle Street Mills, 

John Bates, Manager ; 
■•'••'Harrison Thomas, and Sons, Rassbottom Mills, 
Howard Ralph, Spring Grove and Stayley Mills, 
■•••Johnson Henry, and Sons, Rassbottom Mills, 
Kirk Benjamin, and Sons, Water Street Mills, 
•^•Leech John (and Merchant), Grosvenor Street Mills, 
Mills James, and Sons, HoUins Mill, High Street, 
Piatt Robert, Bridge Street and Quarry Mills, 
Sidebottom Edward and Sons, Aqueduct Mills, Stanley St. 
■•••Stayley Mill Co. (Wilham. David and Abel Harrison), 
Wagstaffe John, Aqueduct Mihs, 
Wareing William, and Co., Wareing's Mill, Bridge Street, 
Wilkinson James, Copley Mills, Huddersfield Road. 

Woollen Manufacturers. 
Hyde, George and Joseph, Stayley Castle Mill. 
Kinder, James and Samuel, Stocks, Stayley. 
Maude, Nathaniel (Flannel), Moorgate. 
Schofield, Mark, Stamford Street. 
Schofield, Samuel and John, Carr Brook. 
Schofield, Son and Fry, He3n-od. 
Shaw, Hugh, and Son, Castle Hall Mill. 
Slater, Moses (Flannel), Carr Brook. 

Iron and Brass Founders. 
Dean and Tinker (and Millwrights), Eagle Foundry, 
Wagstaffe Street. 


Lawton, Thomas (and Machine-maker), Bennett 

Milburn, Wilham, Tame Foundry, Castle Street. 
Wainwright, Benjamin (and Millwright), Leech Street. 

Iron Roller Makers. 

Andrew and Hilton, Wagstaffe Street. 

Milburn, Hallsworth and Co., Back Grosvenor Street. 

Machine Makers. 

Broadbent, Robert, Castle Hall Steam Saw Mills. 
Lawton, Thomas, Bennett Street. 
Milburn, Hallsworth and Co., Back Grosvenor Street. 
Wilkinson, James, Copley Mills. 

Engineers and Millwrights. 

Dean and Tinker, Eagle Foundry. 

Gimson, Yates and Ainsworth, Stayley Ironworks. 

Wainwright, Benjamin, Commercial Ironworks. 


Rapid Growth of the Town — Statistics of Population — Number 
of Mills— Prosperity of the Cotton-Masters — List of Mansions, &c. 

" When I was a boy some elderly personages with whom I was acquainted 

were kind enough to describe to me events .... and the stories I 

then heard have made a lasting impression upon me." 

William Harrison Ainsworth. 

The Trade Disturbances of 1830-31— The Remedy — List of 
Special Constables — Precautions. 

" And may not, .... men with honest pride, confess that in the records 

of the good old town, there are to be found examples worthy 

of imitation in all succeeding ages." 

James Crosion, F.S.A. 

The Rising of the Chartists — The People's Charter— The 
Pike Maker — "The Parson and the Pike." 

mHE reliable accounts of the town and its advance- 
ment are as follows : — "In 1814 there were 
nearly twelve factories ; in 18 18 they had increased 
to about sixteen. During the first twenty years of the 
present century (1800- 1820) the excellent position of 
Staley-Bridge, with all its advantages of fuel and facilities 
of conveyance were duly appreciated ; so that the town 
became larger every year ; the streets multiplied rapidly ; 
houses started into existence as if by magic ; extensive 
factories reared their massive walls ; and the site of the 
woods of Staley became a flourishing town." 

The population of Stalybridge in 1823 is recorded as 
5,500 persons. In the course of the succeeding two 
years (1824-5) there was a most extraordinary increase, 
partially owing to the settlement of a considerable 


number of Irish families, who were attracted hither 
by the prospect of better wages than were to be 
obtained in their own country. In 1825 the population 
appears to have been at least 9,000. 

In 183 1 a census was taken within the limits of the 
Police Commissioners, the returns being as follows : — 
Total number of persons, 14,216 (males 6,625, females 
7,591) inhabited houses, 2,357 '> families, 2,629 ; families 
employed in trade, 1,949 ; families employed in agricul- 
ture, 23 ; in other occcupations, 657 ; males over 20 
years of age, 2,976 ; men employed as labourers, excava- 
tors, builders, etc., 1,997. 

The statement published by one historian is to the 
effect that in the space of 92 years, viz., from 1749 to 
1841, the population of Stalybridge increased from 140 
to 9,000. 

In 1836 the number, condition, religion, and other 
matters in connection with the inhabitants of Staly- 
bridge were ascertained by a statistical surve}-, under 
the guidance and supervision of the Manchester Statis- 
tical Society, which resulted as follows : — Population, 
17,200. Number of dwelhngs examined, 3,313 — viz., 
houses, 2,587 ; sitting-rooms, 670 ; cellars, 56 ; old 
public-houses, 29 ; beer-shops, 10. Persons living in 
houses, 12,345 ; living in rooms, 670 ; living in cellars 
56 ; persons able to read and write, 4,484 ; able to read 
only, 4,188. Heads of families. Church of England, 769 ; 
lodgers of same persuasion, 95. Heads of families, 
dissenters, 917 ; lodgers of same persuasion, 169, Heads 


of families, Catholics, 455 ; lodgers of same persuasion, 
436. Heads of families of other beliefs, 1,174 ; lodgers of 
same persuasion, 588. 

A communication of the Rev. J. F. Anderton, Roman 
Catholic Priest, dated August, 1840, gives the numbers 
of the Catholic population within the police limits of 
Stalybridge as follows : Total number of individuals, 
3.365 ; oi whom 2,184 were upwards of thirteen years 
of age. 

In 1841 the population of Stalybridge was estimated 
as being between 20,000 and 21,000, the increase in the 
preceding ten years being nearly 7,000. 

1823 No. of Spinning Mills and Loom Mills 26 

No. of Spindles 200,000 

1825 No. of Spinning Mills exclusive of 

Loom Mills 22 

Steam Engines 29 
Water-wheels 6 

Aggregate 1 

No. of Spindles in the Town 354o8o 

No. of Power Looms in the Town . . 2,470 
1831 Steam Engines, about 38 [ aggregate 

Several Water-wheels ]horse-power[ -^'^^^ 
1833 Net earnings of 8,542 operatives in 

Stalybridge and Dukinfield, £19,409 7s. 6M 

Average per head, per week 13s. 6d, 

1841 Number of Spindles in the Town . . 536,000 

Power Looms 5, 000 

The prosperity of the cotton-masters was apparent 
in the noble mansions which they erected on the out- 
skirts of the town. A writer of the period (rather 


a harsh critic one is inclined to think) thus refers 
to them : — " As a body, the manufacturers are wealthy — 
clever — and have extensive business connections, but 
their political interest is the most feeble of that of all 
branches of commercial industry, for they have allowed 
their accumulated wealth to entomb them. They have 
huge factory-like houses within the sound of their 
machinery, dinners of puzzling variety, equipages, ser- 
vants, everything of the costliest and best ; . . . . 
but where are there any indications of a refined and 
generous liberality? The yearly stagnation of their 
incomes generates nothing but a noxious desire to have 
a higher chimney or a bigger mill than their neighbours." 
The following list of mansions and family residences 
may be of interest : — 

Eastwood, George Cheetham 

Hyde's House, Joseph Bayley 

Kelsall House, Jeremiah Lees 

Vaudrey House, Thomas Vaudrey 

Stamford Lodge, John Lees 

Hob Hill House, John OrreU 

Albion House, James Bayley 

House (corner of King Street), George Cheetham 

The Woodlands, Charles C. Bayley 

House, Bowling Green, James Hall 

Woodfield, Rev. Thos. Evans 

Thompson Cross, Thomas Harrison 

Acres Bank, James Adshead 

West Hill, William Harrison 

The W^ood, Millbrook, George Adshead 


Highfield, Abel Harrison 
Brookfield, James Wilkinson 
Gorse Hall, John Leech 
Park Hill, James Howard 
The Priory, David Cheetham 
Heyrod Hall, Ralph Ousey. 


In the autumn of 1830, a serious strike amongst the 
operative classes, for increased wages, prevailed in this 
district. It is referred to by those who have heard their 
parents tell about it as the '' Four - and - twopence 
a swing." To such an extent did the excitement 
grow that military aid was sought, and the men 
were quartered in certain mills in the neighbourhood. 
The " Police Commissioners," however, were alive to 
the danger, and forthwith prepared for any emergency 
which might arise. The records of the period give 
the following information :— December loth, 1830.— 
Ordered that five dozen Constable's Staves be provided 
for the use of Special Constables." 

" In consequence of the present disturbed state of 
this town and neighbourhood, it is become highly 
necessary to increase the Civil force forthwith." 

" Ordered that twelve able-bodied men be engaged 
as Assistant Constables for the day, and that a night 
patrol of thirty-six men be immediately established." 

It was now a well-known fact that bands of hired 
assassins were nightly lurking in the vicinity of the 


mills, ready to wreak vengeance on their victims. The 
magistrates of the district were requisitioned to sit or 
hold a bench in Stalybridge " as soon as possible." 

A resolution of December 17th, 1830, contains the 
following : " That a letter be sent to the magistrates 
requesting them to direct the public-houses to be closed 
at an early hour in the evening in consequence of the 
disturbed state of the town and neighbourhood." 

December 31st. — '' That twelve Watchman's Boxes 
be forthwith provided and fixed in such situations 
within the town as the committee for managing the 
night patrol shall appoint." 

" That eighteen Watchmen's Rattles be provided." 

The excitement was intense ; gun-shots were heard 
during the dead of night, first on one side of the town 
and then on the other. 

A special contingent of honorary constables was 
organised to the number of 120, each man chosen being 


on duty during the Trade Disturbances, December ,1830, 
and January, 1831. 

Head Constables. 

Mr. James Bayley, Mr. Jeremiah Lees, and Mr. Abel 


Deputy Constable — ^Mr. Edward Garside. 
Assistant Constables and Special Constables. 

John Leech 
John Van drey 
WiUiam Orrell 
John Orrell 
Ralph Hall 
James Bayley 
Joseph Garlick 
James Wilkinson 
Robert Piatt 
Abrm. Sunderland 
James Wagstaffe 
William Harrison 
lowerth Davis 
George Lee 
Henry Atkins 
Thomas Bradley 
Thomas Lawton 
James Brierley 
James Bayley 
Joseph Brierley 
John Hopwood 
Jethro Tinker 
James Clegg 
Thomas Wild, senr 
Chris. Medcalf 
Aaron Hall 
Joseph Buckley 

David Harrison 
James Hall 
George Piatt, junr, 
Edward Vaudrey 
Abel Bayley 
Jeremiah Lees 
Benj . Wainwright 
Samuel Hopwood 
James Cook 
Aaron Adshead 
Ammon Hall 
William Dawson 
Nathan Andrew 
Jonathan Hibbert 
John Hey wood 
Thomas Dawson 
Charles Bayley 
Thomas Smith 
John Cheetham 
Jonathan Andrew 
Wm. Sidebottom 
Israel Massey 
.Robert Lawton 
Mark Bredbury 
James White 
James Walsh 

George Piatt, senr. 
James Adshead 
John Cook 
Abel Harrison 
David Cheetham 
William Plant 
Samuel Dowse 
John Wagstaffe 
Joshua Cheetham 
Samuel Pearson 
William Bayley 
Henry Orrell 
Edward Burton 
Edward Kerfoot 
John Reece 
Allen Harrison 
George Brooks 
Albert Hall 
James Houghton 
Thomas Whitehead 
William Garside 
Chris. Charlesworth 
Joseph Bannister 
Joseph Schofield 
George Hinchcliffe 
J eremiahCheetham 
Thomas Cheetham 



John Carrol 
George Hall 
Henry Birch 
Edward Hilton 
John Cheetham 

William Garside 
William Bentley 
James Heap 
Robert White 
John Hilton 
James Mills 
Abdiel Berry 
George Chadwick 

Assistant Constables and Special Constables — Continued, 

Latimer Finn Thomas Burkett Samuel Buckley 

James Stanslield Jonath'n Kershaw James Fogg 
James Crossley G. F. Cheetham James Hill 
David Cheetham RobertWhitehead George Devonport 
Thomas Blakeley James Roecliffe John Chadwick 
John Williamson John Buckley 
RobertWhitehead Joshua Wood 
James Burton Hugh Ashton 

Thomas Shaw 

Joseph Hobson 

James Ford 

John Booth 

Joseph Norton 

Scarcely had these precautions been taken in Staly- 
bridge when a dastardly crime was committed in the 
immediate vicinity. On the 3rd of January, 1831, as 
Mr. Thomas Ashton, cotton master, was returning 
home from the mill at Apethorn, near Gee Cross, he 
was deliberately waylaid and murdered in cold blood. 
The assassins escaped, and for a long period, in spite of 
a reward of £1,500, remained unknown. At length one 
of them, for they numbered three, turned informer, 
and his two companions in crime perished on the gallows. 

The firmness of the Stalybridge Police Commissioners 
at this critical period produced its effect. A duty-book 
used by the patrol is in existence, and contains many 
significant entries. The excitement abated, and the 
operatives returned to their work in the mills. On the 


iith February, 1831, the following was written : " That 
the night patrol be reduced to twenty men." A week 
later an addition was made thus : " That the whole of 
the men employed as night patrol be discharged on 
Saturday next, and the said night patrol be discontinued 
in consequnece of the peaceable state of the town and 


The Chartists .were a body of reformers recruited 
mainly from the operative classes of the cotton 
manufacturing districts. Their leaders have been 
described by the records which deal with the movement 
in detail, as follows : — " Feargus O'Connor, a man 
of wild recklessness, and Joseph Rayner Stephens, . . 
. . . a fanatic, who possessed a great command of 
language and great power of declamation." 

The objects for which the Chartists agitated were 
known as '' The People's Charter," and were as follows : 
" 1st, Universal Suffrage ; 2nd, Vote by Ballot ; 3rd, 
Annual Parhaments ; 4th, the Division of the County 
into equal Electoral districts ; 5th, the abolition of the 
property qualification in Members of Parliament, and 
payment for their services." The Chartists had a 
newspaper, which was established by Feargus O'Connor. 
To such an extent did the organisation grow that they 
defied all authority, and marched in procession through 
the district with flaming torches, banners, and firearms. 
On the 14th November, 1838, a great meeting was held 
at Newton Moor. Mr. Stephens was present, and for 


the speech which he made on that occasion he was 
arrested, and subsequently tried at the Chester Assizes, 
August 15th, 1839. A f^ll account of the trial (once the 
property of the writer) may be seen in the Ashton-under- 
Lyne Free Library. In passing the sentence of eighteen 
months' imprisonment upon Mr. Stephens, the learned 
Judge, Mr. Justice Pattison, said: " .... I am 
very sorry to have to pass sentence upon any person 
of your talent and ability, and of your education." 

On his release from prison he came back to Stalybridge 
and was the recipient of a testimonial as follows : — 
" To the Reverend Joseph Rayner Stephens, who, for 
maintaining, in perilous times, the cause of the poor, 
suffered eighteen months' imprisonment in Chester 
Castle, this cup (with accompanying tea service for 
Mrs. Stephens) was presented by admiring and devoted 
friends in Stalybridge." 

A local blacksmith did a roaring trade during the 
existence of the agitation by manufacturing and supply- 
ing pikes to the Chartists. He had agents in all the 
disaffected districts, through whom he received com- 
missions and supplied orders. 

The Government of the time, it is said, passed a Bill 
through both houses in the course of a single evening 
making it a crime to be found in possession of these 
weapons. As soon as the news reached this district 
thousands of pikes met a watery grave in the Tame and 
elsewhere ; while for years after it was customary for 
the local gardeners, when delving their ground up in 


the spring of the year, to disinter the half-rusted blade 
of some hidden and forgotten pike. 

The ballad of " The Parson and the Pike," which was 
sung through the streets of the town, and of which there 
are still copies in existence, deals with a certain clergy- 
man who is named, and a Chartist tailor. The tailor 
was visited by the " Parson," who, in the heat of his 
loyalty, thought to trap the " Knight of the Thimble 
and Pike," and hand him over to justice. 

A " pike " was ordered, and in the course of a few 
days the clergyman called for it, and, having had the 
parcel handed to him, he paid the price due, left the 
shop, and proceeded to the police ofhce, where he laid 
the " pike before the constable." Instant arrest of the 
tailor was advocated by the " Parson." The constable 
decided that the parcel should first be opened, when a 
" stale, stinking pike-fish, was discovered " ; the 
" Parson " was not in the best of tempers when he found 
that he had been tricked by the tailor. The verses 
are too lengthy, otherwise they would have appeared 
in these pages. 

THE "'42" TURN-OUT. 

The great " Turn-out" of 1842 commenced in Bridge 
Street, Stalybridge. It is an acknowledged fact that 
this vale of ours has always been a battle-ground 
for the settlement of disputes connected with the 
operative classes. 


The origin of this dispute is said to have had its birth 
amongst a class of spinners who were known as "Crashers" 
who worked on jennies of '' twelve dozens," and " the 
power-loom weavers," who were to be the first to suffer a 
reduction of wages. Meetings were held, and a resolution 
passed by a vast assemblage of operatives, " That all 
labour should cease throughout Lancashire, Cheshire, 
Yorkshire, and Derbyshire." A compromise was sought 
by the hands, but was not listened to. The struggle 
commenced on the first Friday in August, 1842. The 
excited operatives held meetings on the Saturday and 
Sunday, and doubtless the presence of the inevitable 
" Firebrands " helped the smouldering embers to blaze 
forth. Monday morning came, and with it the " Turn- 
outs " marched in procession to Ashton and stopped all 
the mills, by what has been termed " plug- drawing." 
The railway system was in its infancy in this neighbour- 
hood, and the '' turn-outs " even went so far as to 
tamper with the locomotives. 

'' A fair day's wage for a fair day's work " became the 
cry of the excited people. Riots took place at Ashton, 
Stockport, Oldham, Blackburn, etc., etc., and in some 
cases the military had to be sent for, and the " mob " 
was even fired upon. 

One resolution passed by the Stalybridge men was to 
this effect, and it was communicated to the officer in 
command of the soldiers in this district : " That if a 
sword was drawn upon them, or a musket fired at them, 
each man would return home and set fire to his own 


After a period of six weeks, after a struggle and fight, 
of which old tongues still tell, the operatives were glad 
to yield and return to their work, poorer, humbler, 
sadder, and it is to be hoped wiser men. Many of them 
had to suffer for this in after days, and several of the 
ringleaders were sent across the seas to Van Dieman's 
Land, and under compulsion left their country for their 
country's good. 


The Cotton " Panic," its Cause and Effect. 
(T^apter I. 

The War Cloud of 1S52-3-4 — 57 — "The Cotton Supply Associ- 
ation," John Cheatham, Esq. — Early Cotton Imports — Comparative 
Prices, Returns, and Wages on the eve of the "Cotton Panic." 

" The Angel of Death is abroad, we can almost feel the beating of his wings." 

John Bright. 

V^i/HE outbreak of the Crimean War and its 
^^J continuance through the years 1852-3-4, had a 
very serious effect upon this district. Many young 
men were hu"ed from their situations in the various 
manufactories by the gay ribbons of the recruiting 
sergeants, with their glowing accounts of the hfe and 
prospects in store for those w^ho accepted the " Queen's 
Shilhng." The patriotic spirit which seems inherent 
in the blood of the natives of this valley asserted itself 
and numbers of young men enlisted at the locai Depot, 
and were rapidly passed through the stages of their 
preliminary training. The annals ol " The Alma," 
" Sebastopol," and " The Storming of the Redan," 
contain the names of many worthy sons of Stalybridge. 


The termination of hostilities in the Crimea was 
followed by the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, in 
1857, whilst minor wars in various parts of the world 
continued to disturb the commerce of England. 

In 1857 ^ number of representative cotton manufac- 
turers and merchants formed a society known as " The 
Cotton Supply Association." Our illustrious townsman, 
the late John Cheetham, Esq., M.P., was the president 
of that association. The scheme had its inception " in 
the prospective fears of a portion of the trade that some 
dire calamity must inevitably, sooner or later, overtake 
the cotton manufacture of Lancashire, whose vast 
superstructure had so long rested upon the treacherous 
foundation of restricted slave-labour as the main source 
of supply for its raw material." 

The thinking men of the time who formed this barrier 
against a failure of supply were not supported by the 
capitalists as they ought to have been. 

The society sent out its pioneers, and established 
agencies for the purpose of introducing cotton-growing 
in the following countries : — Turkey, Italy, Egypt, Spain, 
Portugal, Australia, the Brazils, South America, etc., 
and distributed large consignments of cotton seeds. 
Preparatory machinery, viz., cotton gins, and other 
appliances, were despatched in large quantities. From a 
report issued by the association in 1862 we glean that 
" a prize of from £30,000,000 to ;f 40,000,000 per annum 
is at the present moment offered by the trade of Lanca- 
shire, to be competed for by all nations capable of 
growing cotton." The experiences of recent years, in 

8o bygonp: stalybridge 

addition to those of " the Cotton Panic," have given 
proof of the foresight of the founders and promoters of 
the now almost forgotten " Cotton Supply Association " 
of 1857. 

For the use of those who are largely interested in the 
principal trade of Stalybridge, and who may not be able 
to find time to hunt up old records in connection with 
the cotton trade, the following may be worth notice : — 
" Until the year 1788 the supply of cotton for the 
manufacturers of Manchester and district was derived 
principally from the West Indies, and Lancaster was 
the principal English port through which it passed to 
the consumer. Soon after that time the States of North 
America, and our own settlements in the East, began to 
export cotton to this country." 

The Cotton imports into Liverpool for the year 1770 
according to William Enfield in his " History of Liver- 
poole," published in 1770, were as follows: — 

Antigua, 168 bags Continent 

Barbadoes, 459 bags of America : 

Dominique, 705 bags New York, 3 bales 

Granada, 1,083 bags Virginia, 4 bags 

Jamaica, 1,775 bags North Carolina, 3 barrels 

St. Kits, 100 bags Georgia, 3 bags 

Montserrat, 178 bags 
Tartola, 949 bags 

St. Vincent, 610 bags 

Total, 6,027 bags Total, 7 bags, 3 barrels, 3 bales 


On the eve of the outbreak of the American War the 
weekly consumption of cotton in this country was 
East and West Indian, 3,461 bags ; 
Brazihan or Egyptian, 3,968 bags ; 
American, - - 41,094 bags. 
The value of the cotton consumed in the United 
Kingdom in i860 was estimated at £33,520,919. 
In 1784 the value of lib. of No. 42's yarn was los. iid. 
,, i860 ,, ,, ,, ,, iid. 

,, 1786 ,, ,, „ lOo's „ £1 i8s. 

„ i860 ,, „ ,, ,, 2s. 6d. 

,, 1760 the Dock Dues at Liverpool were £2,330. 
„ i860 „ „ „ „ £444.417- 

The period of prosperity experienced by the cotton 
masters of Stalybridge saw the inauguration of 
better wages for the operatives, and hence a larger 
circulation of money in the town. The hours of labour 
were reduced, better machinery was introduced, and the 
importance of education began to be considered. A 
comparison of the weekly earnings of the operatives, 

as given by a reliable authority, is very interesting : 

1844 1S60 

£ s. d. / s. d. 

Spinner i 3 6 .. i 9 o 

Big Piecer o 12 o . . o 13 o 

Little Piecer o 6 6 .. o 9 o 

Lap Machine Tenter o 12 o 14s. to o 17 o 

Card Strippers and Grinders . . o 12 o i8s. to i 00 

Roving Frame Tenter 9 o .. on 6 

Slubbing Frame Tenter 9 .. on 6 

Drawing Frame Tenter o 9 .. on o 



In 1844 the operatives worked 72 hours per week, 
while in i860, the time had been reduced to 60 hours 
per week 

(ri)apUr 2. 

The " Cotton Panic" and its cause — John Brown — President 
Lincoln— Local Manufacturers and the War— Commencement of 
the Blockade — Confederate Bonds — The Blockade-Runners — 
American Sympathy. 

" In Sixty-one the war beRan, 

In Sixty-two 'twas halfway through ; 

In Sixty-three the niggers were free, 

In Sixty-four the war was o'er."— Yankee Ballad. 

\^L*HE cause of the "Panic" was the failure of 
\itf the supply of cotton from the United States of 
America. Lancashire mills were dependent mainly 
upon that source for the material required, and the 
outbreak of hostilities between the Northern and 
Southern States of the American Republic completely 
stopped the shipment of cotton from that country to 

The Civil War, as it was termed, was the result of a 
division of the United States on the question of " eman- 
cipation " of the slaves of the great cotton plantations 
of the South. In 1859, John Brown, a stern believer in 
the equality of the black and white, made a raid into 
Virginia in connection with his scheme for the liberation 
of the slaves. For his share in the cause of humanity, 
John Brown perished on the scaffold, on the site of 


which there stands to-day a magnificent statue to his 
worth and memory, and the refrain of the old war-song 
of the North hves to-day : 

" John Brown's body hes a-mouldering in the grave, 

But his soul — goes marching on." 

On the 4th March, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was 
inaugurated President of the United States, the Con- 
federacy, or Southern States, having made Jefferson 
Davis their President. 

On the 15th of April, President Lincoln called 
for 70,000 troops, to which there responded 93,326 
men. From that date the working classes of this 
town began to suffer, many fine young fellows crossed 
the western ocean, and not a few were included in 
2,690,401 soldiers who eventually fought for the freedom 
of the slave. 

From April, 1861, until May, 1865, was the period of 
hostilities in the States. On the 14th April, 1865, 
President Lincoln was assassinated, and a month later 
the cause he had at heart became the law of his country, 
and slavery was abolished. 

In the early summer of 1861, some of the local mills 
began to run short time, and gradually trade grew 
worse and worse, until want and starvation began to 
throw their gaunt shadows over the whole district. 

The memories of those times, as told by the veteran 
operatives of to-day, would fill volumes of interesting 


The Confederate Government inaugurated a system 
known as " The Cotton Loan." Money was borrowed 
from the manufacturers in this district, and " made 
payable in cotton at fivepence per pound," 

A clause in the agreement " restricted the trade to 
vessels which carried a certain proportion of Confederate 
bonds, which, being discharged in cotton, enabled them 
to borrow again." By this practice, which was called 
" Running the Blockade," there came into this country 
in 1862, 71,750 bales of American cotton ; and in 1863, 
131,900 bales. 

Some years ago it was the lot of the author to be 
acquainted with several daring '' Blockade Runners," 
who sailed from the port of Liverpool during this period. 
The profits of this risky business were enormous ; the 
penalty, if captured by the Federal Men-of-War, was 

Many of the local manufacturers laughed at the idea 
that the " Yankee War " would last more than a few 
months, and the sympathy was considerably in favour 
of the South. Vast sums of money were, it is asserted, 
sent for the use and support of the " Confederate cause." 
A few of the wiser employers and capitalists shook their 
heads and silently awaited the result. The prices of 
raw material began to rise as the Federals of the North 
began to blockade the Southern ports. The Confederate 
Government relied upon their belief, a belief which w^as 
that of some of our own townsmen, that "Cotton was 
King in England, and that the old country could not 


do without it, and would be forced in order to secure 
its release to side with those who kept it prisoner." 
The Southern States had with them experienced Generals 
and unlimited monetary supplies when the critical 
moment arrived for the commencement of hostilities. 

It is gratifying to know that during the time that the 
Civil War was raging the Americans sent for the relief 
of the Lancashire operatives the sum of £1,333 5S- nd. 
in money and about ;f27,ooo in provisions. A New York 
merchant named George Griswold freighted his own 
ship, bearing his own name, and paid the salaries of his 
officers and sailors, and sent them across to the old 
country with a cargo of provisions for the distressed 

The commander of the ship was invited to Manchester 
as the guest of the General Rehef Committee, and at a 
dinner, presided over by the Mayor of Manchester 
(Abel Heywood, Esq.), in replying to the assemblage 
he said — " God grant that the war desolating our land 
may soon be settled — that trade and commerce may 
flourish once more — and that England and America 
may ever extend the hand of good-fellowship to each 


(rt)apUr 3. 

"Hard Times "—Ruin for the Masters— Suffering for the 
Operatives — The Surat Weaver's Song — Bankruptcies. 

" We 've had our troubles since, but none big enough to blot from 
our minds the biggest of all." 


IN 1861 the cotton operatives of Stalybridge little 
dreamed of the struggles and privations which 
in a very short time were to en^^elope them. 

They were even busying themselves with the idea of 
demanding an increase of wages. The masters, who 
knew more of the true state of affairs than their work- 
people, waited for a break in the threatening war-cloud, 
which was spreading and over-shadowing the com- 
mercial interests of the district. In March, 1861, a turn- 
out of weavers for an advance of wages occurred at 
several mills in the town. Suddenly the outbreak of 
hostihties on the other side of the Atlantic paralysed 
the trade of the district. The local mills began to run 
short time, and as the sounds of strife and carnage 
increased in the United States the busy hum of the 
shuttle and the spindle grew fainter and fainter until 
they gradually died away ; and the great hives of 
industry, which for generations had thrilled with 
activity, stood grim and silent. 

Thousands of operatives, with willing hands, but 
aching hearts, wandered listlessly through the district. 

"panic" memories Sy 

Before the distressed workpeople would seek help or 
relief, hundreds of them endeavoured to eke out a living 
in some fashion or other. Those who were musical — 
and Staly bridge has always been noted for its musicians 
— went into other districts and tried to earn something 
by their vocal or instrumental talents. 

A writer of the period thus refers to them: " Now, 
when fortune has laid such a load of sorrow upon the 

working people of -, it is touching to see so 

many workless minstrels in humble life 

They come singing in twos and threes, and sometimes 
in more numerous bands, as if to keep one another in 

countenance. Their faces are 

sad, and their manners often singularly shamefaced 
and awkward, but the careful observer would see at a 
glance that these people were altogether unused to the 

craft of the trained minstrel of the streets 

Their clear, healthy complexions, though often touched 
with pallor, their simple unimportunate demands, and 
the general rusticity of their appearance show them to 

" SuppHants who would blush 

To wear a tattered garb, however coarse ; 

Whom famine cannot reconcile to filth ; 

Who ask with painful shyness, and refused 

Because deserving, silently retire." 

The winter of 1862-3 came and found 7,000 operatives 

without employment in Stalybridge, and a vast number 

only partially employed. The number of concerns in 

the town at this period is given as 66, made up of 39 


factories, 24 foundries and machine-shops, and 3 
bobbin-turning shops. Only five of these estabhshments 
were employed full-time. Many of the mill-owners 
assisted their hands in various ways. 

The pressure became keener as week after w^eek went 
by, when finally a scheme of relief was formulated by 
the country at large. Other nations and countries lent 
their practical sympathy, and from all over the world 
contributions poured in for the use of the suffering 
cotton operatives of Lancashire. At one period it is 
recorded that three-fourths of the operatives of Staly- 
bridge were dependent upon the benevolence of a 
generous people. In the midst of all this trouble and 
want, a serious difference occurred between the 
unemployed operatives and the local committee 
appointed to distribute relief. An organised opposition 
commenced, which eventually led to " The Bread Riots." 

As a result of the intense distress which prevailed in 
the town, when two years had elapsed, the population 
decreased rapidly. 

There were in the town, in 1863, 750 empty houses 
and shops, and it is recorded that property owners, who 
could not expect to receive rent from their starving 
tenants, were not ashamed to sweep the streets for the 
Corporation in order to clear off their own liabilities for 
rates and taxes. Operatives who had the means or 
chance to emigrate to other countries did so, and it is 
estimated that upwards of a thousand skilled men and 
women left the town during the " Panic." 


At the commencement of the distress (1861) the 
balance due to depositors in the " Savings Bank " 
amounted to £92,122 9s., and the number of separate 
deposits was 2,603. 

A feature of this period was the outburst of the 
thrilhng strains of the Laureate of the Cotton Panic, 
Samuel Laycock. Week by week he produced his 
cheering rhymes, some of which will live on so long as 
the dialect is spoken. His " Surat Weaver's Song " is 
full of pathos and humour, two verses of which are as 
follows : 

"Oh dear ! iv yon'd Yankees could only just see 
Heaw they 're clammin' an' starvin' poor wayvers like me, 
Aw think they 'd soon settle ther' bother, an' strive 
For 't send us some cotton, to keep us alive. 

Aw wish aw wur far enough off, eaut o' th' road, 
For o' weivin this rubbitch, aw'm gettin' reet stowed, 
Aw 've nowt i' this world to lie deawn on but straw, 
For aw 've only eight shillin' this fortnit to draw." 

Terrible indeed were the experiences of the working 
classes in Stalybridge during those dark days, and the 
effect ufon the manufacturers may be imagined from the 
following return : — 

The bankruptcies registered in the Court at Man- 
chester, in the years 1861-4, were as follows : — 

1861 175 

1862 370 

1863 261 

1864 387 



The future was obscured for the capitahsts, the 
picture grew darker and darker, until even the most 
sanguine lost heart. The financial interests which some 
of our local magnates were said to have in the Confederate 
cause vanished like chaff before the wind, until the 
inevitable crash involved in its debris the ambitions 
and fortunes of the speculators. " The cotton trade 
had gone — never to return," the approach of ruin 
became apparent, and the flower of local enterprise was 
nipped in the bud beyond a possibility of recovery. 
Clever, shrewd, gifted, and of undoubted business 
capacity, their future prospects were closed ; they 
bravely accepted and faced their positions, and calmly, 
quietly — with unsubdued independency of spirit — 
marched on to the end. 

The Bread Riots — Arrival of the Hussars — Reading of the 
Riot Act — Wholesale Arrests and Convictions — Arrival of Infantry 
with fixed Bayonets — More Cavalry — The use of the Cutlass — 
Meeting of Operatives— Settlement. 

" Ere ye strike, my brethren pause, 
Violence will never aid your cause." 


Vj!/HE cause of the " Bread Riots " was the decision 
\^^ of the " Relief Committee" to substitute a system 
of " relief by ticket " instead of money. These tickets 
were to be presented at the local grocers' shops, where 
goods to the amount would be supplied. 


An organised resistance began, which culminated on 
Friday, the 20th March, 1863, in the commencement 
of one of the darkest pages in the town's history. 

About three o'clock in the afternoon, a noisy crowd 
gathered about the entrance to Mr. Bates's mill, in 
Castle Street. A small force of poKce was present, 
guarding the mill doors and endeavouring to keep order. 
The crowd indulged in shouting, and jeered the police. 
Eventually a stone was thrown which hit one of the 
constables, who endeavoured to arrest the person who 
had thrown it. In an instant a shower of missiles were 
hurled at the police, who in their turn charged the mob. 
Brickbats, stones, and other articles were thrown, and 
several prisoners who had been captured were rescued, 
and the police driven from the place. 

The mob now made for the residence of Mr. Bates, 
on Cocker Hill, "where the windows were smashed and 

the furniture broken by stones 

Mrs. Bates (Mr. Bates's mother) lay ill in bed, and the 
assault upon her house hastened, if it did not cause, her 

Another section of the rioters visited the " Relief 
Stores," near the Welhngton Inn, Carohne Street, 
where they smashed the windows and looted the build- 
ings. " Not satisfied with these appropriations, some 
villain made an attempt (happily unsuccessful) to 
fire the premises." 

The vivid accounts which our townsmen still give of 
the affair have lost none of their detail by the lapse of 


The alarm had been given, and after a lapse of about 
two hours, a shout rent the air: 'The soldiers are coming," 
followed by the clattering of the hoofs of a troop of 
Hussars from Manchester. The police, under the cover 
of the soldiers, arrested many of the ringleaders at once, 
and before the night was over about eighty prisoners 
had been taken to the Town Hall. 

The Mayor, Dr. Hopwood, together with David 
Harrison Esq., J. P., accompanied the military, The 
latter gentleman read the Riot Act, amidst the yells 
and jeers of the mob. 

On the Saturday morning, the eighty prisoners were 
brought before the magistrates, and twenty-nine of 
them were committed to Chester for trial. Warning 
placards were posted on the walls of the town calhng 
attention to the fact that the Riot Act had been read, 
yet the removal of the prisoners from the Town Hall to 
the Railway Station caused a renewal of the disturbance. 
Again the cavalry were to the fore, and the mob stoned 
them as they galloped through the streets. The repre- 
sentatives of the discontents sent a deputation to the 
Mayor, who asked them to wait until the following 
Monday. This was not sufficient, and from five o'clock 
until seven in the evening the town was in the hands of 
a reckless mob. The police were stoned whenever they 
appeared, but the soldiers were getting angry, and the 
rioters saw it, hence whenever the Hussars showed 
themselves the sight of their sabres was quite enough. 
At half-past eleven at night a company of Infantry 
arrived, and marched through the streets with bayonets 


fixed, and about the same time another troop of cavalry 
rode into the town, but their active services were not 
needed ; the rioters kept good hours, and had retired for 
the night. 

On the Sunday the streets were filled with people 
from the neighbouring towns and villages. The rioters 
did not appear. 

Monday morning came, and rumours of further 
trouble began to be heard. About one o'clock the 
disturbances commenced again, the scene being Stanley 
Square, and the police made a charge with drawn 
cutlasses, blood being shed. The sight of blood had a 
great effect upon the mob, and the police led off their 
prisoners unmolested. 

On Tuesday, the 24th March, a great meeting was 
held on the Plantation Ground (where the Market Hall 
now stands), a chairman was appointed, and a deputa- 
tion elected to wait upon the Mayor, requesting him to 
give them relief in money instead of tickets. The Mayor 
promised to give them his reply at one o'clock. 

At that hour a concourse of three thousand starving 
operatives stood waiting for a reply. 

The chairman said that the Mayor's answer was that 
" it was no longer a question of tickets or money, but 
of mastership," and they were advised to return to 
their various schools. The general opinion was that the 
Mayor and Mr. J. Cheetham, M.P., would take up their 
cause, and that the ticket system would not last long. 
The men looked at each other, and the upshot was 
that " a resolution to return to the schools and accept 


tickets for the past and present weeks was unanimously 
adopted." With the passing of that resolution a light 
succeeded the gloom which had been present on three 
thousand faces. Men shook hands with each other, and 
the chairman, who stood in a cart which had acted as 
platform, addressed the meeting something like the 
following : " Now, my lads, in th' Houses of Parliament 
it 's awlus a law that th' majority rules ; so let it be wi' 
us. All of yo' go to yo 're schools, and let no man be 
missing when th' names are called i'th' morning." The 
crowd broke up amidst shouts of " Hurrah !" " Bravo !" 
" Th' riot 's done," &c. A group of girls who had been 
at the meeting, met some soldiers loitering in the street, 
and one of them, clapping one of the Hussars on the 
shoulder, said " Aye, owd chap, theau con go whoam ; 
th' riot 's done." 


The Central Executive Relief Committee, Manchester, and 
the Operatives of Stalybridge — The Sewing Classes and Schools 
— The Return of " King Cotton" — The memorable 27th June, 
1864 — " Hard times come again no more' — Cotton Return, Feb- 
ruary 7th, 1865. 

" The darkest hour is on the verge of day." 

John Critchley Prince. 


HE following address was printed, issued and posted 
on the walls in Stalybridge, March 27, 1863 :^ 

" The Central Executive Relief Committee at Manchester, 

"To THE Operatives of Stalybridge and 
Their Families. 

" We have been entrusted with large funds for the 
relief of distress, and we are distributing them with every 
sympathy for your wants, and with every care for your 
welfare : those funds cannot be claimed by any par- 
ticular district, but are to be given where we think it 
best, taking into consideration distress, good behaviour, 
and local circumstances generally. 

" We deplore the disturbances which have recently 
occurred. We hope they are not shared in by a large 
number. If they are continued, we know that there 
are many elsewhere who will gratefully receive all we 
can afford them ; and the Boards of Guardians, the 
ordinary channels of relief, are always open to others. 


" We therefore appeal to all among you who value 
our relief, to aid us in our wish to continue it to you. 
We beg you, consequently, to avoid and discourage 
meetings which may lead to disturbances, and to assist, 
to the utmost of your power, the local authorities and 
others, whose duty is the preservation of order for the 
good of all. 

" We deeply sympathise in your distress ; none of us 
know how long it will last. W^e must, therefore, be 
prudent in distributing that relief which the generosity 
of the public has given, but which disturbance will cause 
to cease. Unless order is duly preserved, matters must 
pass from our hands into those of the constituted 
authorities of the country. 

" Signed for the Committee, 

" James P. Kay Shuttleworth, 

" Vice-President. 

*'JoHN William Maclure, 

" Honorary Secretary. 

The ladies of Stalybridge rendered excellent service 
in connection with the various sewing-classes which 
were organised for the female operatives. 

It may be interesting to know that during this period 
Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone visited the town, and were the 
guests of Robert Piatt, Esq. Mrs. Gladstone went to 
several of the sewing-classes, and expressed surprise and 

"panic" memories 97 

delight at the excellent needlework and knitting done 
by the scholars. Mr. Gladstone went through some of 
the schools where the male operatives were being taught. 
A writer of the time deals with the school system as 
follows : — ■" The disciplinary work, mental or physical, 
found by relief committees for their dependents answered 
very well until the novelty had worn off, and then it 
became almost as unsatisfactory as pauper or prison- 
labour The natural and almost in- 
evitable consequence was, that men worked not as at a 
task for the accomplishment of which they would be 
rewarded according to their exertions, but listlessly, 
waiting like tired children at school for the hour of 
dismissal ; knowing that the connection between the 
work done and the relief-wages to be procured was not a 
natural but a forced relationship — a make-believe, which 
produced no sympathy, and therefore no fruitful result." 


In the early months of 1864 a perceptible return 
of trade was apparent. The Northern States had 
got the upper hand, the cause of the South was 
doomed. As a finale to his brilliant record. President 
Lincoln called on the i8th July, 1864, for 500,000 
Volunteers, for i, 2, or 3 years' service, to which there 
responded 204,568 men, a large number being of 
Lancashire extraction. The operatives of Stalybridge 
had friends and relatives fighting beneath the flag of the 
Union, and even to this day there are in the town 
several grey-haired veterans who are in receipt of well- 



earned recognition from the American Government 
for their services under the " Star-spangled Banner." 

The newspapers of those days are full of communica- 
tions from the battle-fields. By degrees the engines and 
machinery of several mills were overhauled, ready for 
the cotton, when it came. The spring of 1864 came and 
went, summer had arrived, when the people of Staly- 
bridge became aware of the fact that once again King 
Cotton was on his way. 

For a period of two years scarcely a bale had entered 
the town, when on the 27th of June, 1864, a waggon- 
load of cotton passed through the streets on its way to 
North-end Mills. 

Old men, strong young fellows, and little children 
followed the vehicle as it passed along with its valuable 
freight, and by the time it neared its destination a pro- 
cession had formed. The climax was reached when the 
lurry arrived at the top of Knowl Street. The women 
from the village of North-end had sallied forth to meet 
the welcome material, and in their impetuosity would 
have taken the horses from the shafts and dragged the 
vehicle themselves. 

The elders, however, persuaded them otherwise, and 
amidst cheers and shouts the lurry passed along. The 
women would not be denied the exhibition of their joy 
and delight, for a clothes-prop was obtained on which 
a large coloured handkerchief was fastened, and then 
fixed on the top of the cotton bales. 


The news spread like wildfire, and hundreds of 
operatives visited North - end Mill, to see if the in- 
formation was correct. 

During the day the excitement increased until faces 
that had not smiled for many weary months, and hearts 
that had been long sad, became merry for a little while. 
Singing was heard in many cottage homes that night, 
and as for the residents of North-end, it is not recorded 
whether they retired to rest that evening or not. 

In the course of few days other consignments of cotton 
arrived at various mills, and their unloading was cele- 
brated in homely fashion. In one part of the town the 
women organised a " tay-party," and as the celebration 
wore on, and the shadows fell, from many of the cottage 
interiors there were heard issuing the strains of the then 
familiar song : 

" Many days you have linger'd around my cabin door, 
Oh! hard times, hard times, come again no more. " 



Note. — ^The increase in the supply of American Cotton, 
and the decrease in the imports from the East 
Indian, Chinese, and Japanese growers was apparent 
immediately the war terminated, as foreshadowed by 
the following quotation. 

" In the Manchester Guardian, February 7th, 1865, the 
weekly deliveries of cotton from Liverpool are given as 
under : — 

First four weeks 

First four weeks 

in 1865. 

in 1863. 




. . 

1,560 . . 


Brazil . . 

. . 

1,500 . . 



. . 

3,940 . . 


West Indian 

.. .. 

410 . . 




East Indian, 

China and 



10,230 . . 





The Religious History of the Town in brief. 

Old St. George's. Cocker Hill - St. Paul's, Stayley— St. 
George's, The Hague— Holy Trinity Church— St. James' Church, 
Millbrook-Christ Church-Chapel Street School— The People's 
School— The Wesleyans-The General Baptists-The Ebenezer 
Baptists. Cross Leech Street— Heyrod Union Sunday School- 
The Primitive Methodists— The Congregationalists— The ^letho- 
dist New Connexion Chapel-St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church 
-United Methodist Free Church-The Unitarians-The Gospel 
Mission Hall, Kay Street. 

I am fond of loitering about country churches 

. I do not 
pretend to be what is called a devout man, but there are feelings that 
visit me in a country church which I experience nowhere else ; and 
if not a more religious, I think I am a better man on Sunday, than 
on any other day of the seven." Washington Irving. 

mHE natives of Stalybridge in bygone times 
worshipped at the ancient churches of Ashton- 
under-Lyne and Mottram, within whose burial grounds 
will be found many weather and foot-worn memorials 
bearing local names. There is little trace of any place 
of worship having existed here prior to the inauguration 
of St. George's Church. A local tradition says that a 


Moravian Settlement was located at Rassbottom prior 
to the advent of that body at Dukinfield. A noted 
family named Swanwick, who were Moravians, gave 
their name to Swanwick Clough. 


The origination of this church dates from the 24th 
October, 1772, when a Requisition and Promissory 
Deed was drawn up and duly signed. This document 
is not mentioned either in Aiken or Butterworth. The 
writer obtained a copy of the deed several years ago, 
and Captain Bates recently discovered the original 
parchment, which he generously restored to the 
representatives of the church, where it may now be seen. 

The first church was erected in 1776, but being 
defective, collapsed on the 15th May, 1778. The 
second building is the one which is still remembered, 
and was closed as being unsafe for public worship, 
about Christmas time, 1882. The present church was 
erected on the same site, and was opened on the 21st 
March, 1888. 

The ancient burial ground was formerly surrounded 
by a low parapet wall with fiat coping stones, upon 
which many of our now aged townspeople scampered 
and played in bygone times. This practice was put 
a stop to, and the privacy of the old sepulchres ensured, 
when Robert Piatt, Esq., at his sole cost, erected the 
iron palisading now existing. The ashes of many 
well-known families rest within the stony bosom of 


the old graveyard. The ancestors of the Platts, the 
Halls, the Walton-Mellors, and the Masons, were 
buried here. The graves of Bradbury, the father of 
the explorer, of the Whiteheads, and the Taylors may 
be noticed, whilst the dust of musicians, lawyers, cotton 
masters, and innkeepers now mingles, under the foot 
of the visiting pilgrim. 

Inside the church are numerous memorials to the 
memory and worth of departed townspeople and past 
vicars. The register of births and deaths contains 
much valuable data, from the year 1777. The cost of 
the present church is recorded as about ;f5,ooo, and 
the organ over ;f700. 

The list of past vicars and curates includes the 
names of — 

I Rev. John Kenworthy 2 Rev. J. Cape-Atty 
3 Rev. I. N. France 4 Rev. J. E. Leeson 

5 Rev. J. B. Jelly-Dudley, B.A. 

The present vicar is the Rev. Herbert Hampsou' 
M.A. Excellent Day and Sunday Schools exist in 
connection with the church. 


This Parish was formed from the Parish of Mottram- 
in-Longdendale about 1837. The site on which the 
church was erected was given by the Earl of Stamford 



A list of subscribers with the various amounts is in 
existence, from which we quote the principal donations, 
as follows : — 

James Wilkinson.... £200 

Robert Piatt ^^200 

William Harrison, .;fioo 
David Harrison . . . £100 
John Wagstaffe . . .£100 

Ralph Hall £100 

William Wareing..../ioo 
Aaron Adshead . . ./loo 
David Cheetham . . £50 

John Leech £50 

John Cheetham . . £50 

John Lees £100 

Wm. Bayley & Bros. £50 

James Adshead . ./200 
Lord Stamford . .£200 
Abel Harrison . . . /loo 
George Adshead .£100 

James Hall £100 

James Bayley. . . ./loo 
The Misses Evans £100 
James Buckley . .£150 
William Lees . . . .£100 
Ralph Howard . ./102 los. 
James Howard . . £70 
Rev. Mr. Evans . £50 
William Bardsley. £50 

The foundation stone of the church was laid February 
2nd, 1838 ; the building was completed and con- 
secrated October 9th, 1839. The first services were 
conducted by the Rev. Mr. Evans, prior to the arrival 
of the Rev. W. W. Hoare. A fine peal of bells and a 
clock were placed in the tower of the church in 1851. 
The church was enlarged in 1874, when the following 
handsome sums were given towards the cost : — 

Thomas Harrison, Esq. £850 James Buckley, £800 
J.J. Wilkinson, Esq. £630 Ralph Bates, Esq. £500 

The vicars since the church's formation have been 


as follows : — 

Rev. W. W. Hoare, B.D., 1840-1869. 

Rev. J. M. Cranswick, D.D., 1869-1880. 

Rev. Canon R. H. Brown, M.A., 1880-1887. 

Rev. T. H. Sheriff, M.A., 1887- 

The church contains many beautiful memorial 
windows and tablets. The register dates from 1842. 
The organ cost £1,800, and the total cost of the church 
is estimated at £12,000. There is in existence a very 
well written and detailed account of the rise and progress 
of this church. 


This church was built, and consecrated July 30th, 
1840, and its cost is recorded as £6,000, its organ costing 
an additional £700. Formerly there was a gallery in 
the building, which was taken down some years ago. 

The church was restored in 1885, and re-seated in 
1889. There is ample seating accommodation for a 
congregation of 1,000 persons. Situated in one of 
the pleasantest localities in the district, it is within 
easy distance of its parishioners. 

Within its walls are several beautiful memorials to 
past worshippers, whilst in the confines of its burial 
ground the visitor will notice numerous tributes to 
bygone celebrities. The soldiers quartered at the local 
depot formerly attended Divine service at this church, 


and a noticeable feature in the graveyard is a row of 
grass-grown mounds beneath which he the remains 
of many forgotten warriors. 

The list of vicars at this church includes the following 
names : — 

I Rev. Isaac Newton France 2 Rev. W. Hale 

3 Rev. J. E. Leeson 4 Rev. F. Leeson 

5 Rev. J. H. KiUick. 6 Rev. H. J. Hutchinson 

7 Rev. J. T. Read 8 Rev.T.M.01dfield,M.A. 

Large and commodious Day and Sunday Schools 
are attached to the church. 


The Parish of Castle Hall, or Holy Trinity, was 
formed about the year 1846. Its first vicar, the Rev. 
Thomas Floyd, B.A., was installed as incumbent in 1847. 
The first meetings in connection with the church were 
held in the cottage of Mrs. Simpson, in Back Grosvenor 
Street. Temporary rooms w^ere afterwards obtained, 
and services were held in the Foresters' Hall. The 
foundation stone of the church was laid on Easter 
Monday, 185 1, when a procession and other ceremonies 
took place. The church w^as opened on the 27th June, 
1852, and consecrated in the October following. The 
executors of Miss Jane Cook, of Cheltenham, conveyed 
to the benefice of Holy Trinity Church the handsome 
sum of £1,666. Numerous gifts from various ladies 


and gentlemen are fully acknowledged in the well 
written annals of the church. 

In 1853 a fine peal of bells was placed in the tower, 
the cost being £500, which was defrayed by voluntary 

The excellent Day and Sunday Schools in connection 
with this place of worship were completed in 1853. 

The first vicar of Holy Trinity, the Rev. Thomas 
Floyd, B. A., died on the 4th x\pril, 1875. His successor, 
the Rev. Fielding Ould, died as the result of an accident, 
October 17th, 188 1. The present vicar, the Rev. 
Charles Sutcliffe, succeeded, and preached his first 
sermon on Sunday, January i8th, 1882. 


St. James' Church, Millbrook, is an off-shoot of St. 
Paul's, Stayley. The commencement of Church of 
England work in the village was the opening of a branch 
school by the Rev. Mr. Hoare, about the year 1848. 
A substantial building was erected, and Day and Sunday 
Schools established, services being held every Sunday 
evening. In the early sixties a scheme for the erection 
of a church was conceived, which obtained the sub- 
stantial support of Abel Harrison, Esq., of Highfield 
House, Stalybridge. Financial aid was forthcoming 
and the proposed church became a reality. 


St. James' Church, Millbrook, was consecrated for 
Divine Service on the 29th January, 1863, at which 
time there was assigned to it a district as a separate 
parish, the Rev. W. H. White being appointed as its 
first vicar. He was succeeded by the Rev. Richard 
Salkeld, who was afterwards followed by the present 
vicar, the Rev. F. L. Farmer, M.A., now in the 26th 
year of his stewardship. 


The formation of this, the youngest church in the 
town, was the act of a few working-men, who comm.enced 
a School, and held meetings in a small room situated off 
Quarry Street, Stalyb ridge. The project grew and 
flourished until the School thus form.ed encouraged its 
founders to aspire and to formulate a scheme by which 
they might become possessed of a School building of 
their own. A site was procured, plans were drawn, 
and, eventually, their ideal became a reality. 

The edifice was used as a School Church, and was 
dedicated on the 19th April, 1873. 

The first curate was the Rev. Charles Sutcliffe, who 
was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Langbridge, who in his 
turn was followed by the Rev. James Grant Bird, the 
present Vicar, now in the 30th year of his work at this 


The important dates in connection with this place of 
worship are thus recorded : — 

Foundation Stone of Church laid 23rd September, 1877. 

Consecration Service, 21st May, 1879. 

The cost of the Church was ;f3,500. 

In the year 1882, and again in 1887, important enlarge- 
ments and additions were made to the Schools. 

The register dates from 1878. The seating accom- 
modation is adequate for 800 persons. 

The present satisfactory condition of this Church 
and the Schools connected with it are a monument to 
the energy, tact, and popularity of the present Vicar, 
who has spent the very best years of his life in furthering 
the welfare of his people and his flock. 

The latest addition is a new Infant School, which 
was erected at a cost of ;f 1,500, and opened in 1902. 


This School was originated by Robert Piatt and 
Thomas Broadbent, in a very humble manner. These 
men started their project — viz., that of forming a 
Sunday School — " in a house in the wood," which was 
situated at the top of Wood Street. A third person, 
named Robert Kershaw, now joined the scheme, and 
the idea flourished and grew until it became necessary 
to migrate successively to other quarters — viz., a portion 


of a smithy, belonging to John Lunn, in Harrop Street ; 
Tongue's Garret, in Prow Street ; the garret above the 
Hope and Anchor ; and eventually Judson's Assembly 
Room, which was located above the " King's Head 
Inn," then situate two doors from the Wheat Sheaf 
Inn, King Street. On the erection of the Methodist 
New Connexion Chapel in Rassbottom Street, in 1802, 
the Sunday School went thither. The site on which 
the chapel stood was sold to raise funds for a larger 
building in Chapel Street. 

On the 24th June, 1815, the foundation stone of the 
new School was laid. At that time it was an undenomina- 
tional school, but as the other religious bodies in the 
town began to have their own schools, the Chapel 
Street School became recognised as the property of the 
New Connexionists, and in 1821 a Board of Trustees 
was formed, composed of the following persons : — John 
Higginbottom, James Harrop, Joseph Shepley, Joseph 
Wrigley, William Wrigley, Robert Kershaw, John 
Tongue, Nathaniel Buckley, John Nield, Joseph Knott, 
John Schofield, John Howard, Thomas Lees, Abdiel 
Berry, Joseph Tongue, Joseph Roberts, Joshua Piatt, 
John Whitworth, Samuel Piatt, Daniel Saxon, James 
Swallow, Neddy Shelmerdine, and Thomas Mason. 

In the year 1845, a Jubilee of the formation of the 
School was held, when a medal was presented to Mr. 
Robert Kershaw, as the surviving founder, and for his 
services in connection with the school. In 1856, another 
Board of Trustees was formed, as follows : — ^Thomas 


Mason, Abdiel Berry, Samuel Piatt, lowerth Davis, 
John Hilton, John Ashmore, R. Winterbottom, senr., 
R. Winterbottom, junr., Henry Birch, William Bright, 
T. A. S. Saxon, George Blakeley, James Moore, Allen 
Wilde, Samuel McQuire, Thomas Worth, R. P. Whit- 

The present School was erected on the site of its 
predecessor, the foundation-stone being laid by Thomas 
Mason, Esq., of Audenshaw Hall, July, 1867, and 
was opened by Hugh Mason, Esq., of Groby Lodge, 
April i6th, 1868. The estimated cost was about 


This building was erected by the friends, supporters, 
and admirers of the Rev. Joseph Rayner Stephens, 
about the year 1839. ^^ was intended for Divine Worship 
and for Sunday School work, and was also used as a 
Day School. Evening classes were held during the 
week nights, and the School also became famous for 
its periodical entertainments, known as " Dramatic 
Recitals." The declining years of the founder, and 
the thinning of the ranks of his followers by the hand 
of death, caused the institution to wane. It was 
ultimately acquired by the Holy Trinity Church, and 
is now used as a Mission Hall in connection with that 
place of worship, and has accommodation for 500 



The Wesleyans were in existence in Stalybridge as 
a religious sect prior to the year 1800. From the time 
when the Rev. John Wesley preached at Staley Hall, 
December 7th, 1745, and again on Sunday, May nth, 
1747, when he spoke, as is supposed, from Rassbottom 
Cross, the village received regular visitations from 
Wesleyan preachers. In 1762 there existed a Society 
of Wesleyans, at Higham Fold, the site of which was 
obliterated in the construction of Mellor Road. 

In 1805 a Wesleyan Meeting Room existed near the 
Angel Inn, Rassbottom, from whence the worshippers 
went to " Holden's Garret," Cocker Hill. The first 
Wesleyan Chapel, in Caroline Street, was opened in 
1815, and enlarged in 1827 at a cost of ;f400. A branch 
place of worship was formed on Cocker Hill, and a 
suitable chapel built in 1864 in Blandford Street, then 
known as Portland Street. This building was sold to 
the Presbyterians in 1869, who used it for some years. 
It is now known as Hartley Works, and is the property 
of Messrs. Dawson and Co., Engineers. The present 
Wesleyan Chapel, Caroline Street, was built in 1872, and 
cost about £4,000. It contains an organ which cost £700. 

The Sunday School was held first in the old chapel, 
and appears to have been formed about 1820. In the 
year 1825 the Canal Street School was built ; great 
improvements and additions have been made in recent 

There is a well written history of the local Wesleyans 
in booklet form. 



The date of the recorded establishment of the 
Baptist denomination in Stalybridge is given as 1806, 
when a Mr. Barker, who claimed to belong to the sect, 
settled in the village. In the same year, he publicly 
immersed nine people in the reservoir which supplied 
the Old Woollen MiU, near the Pack Horse Inn, Old 
Street. The services were held in a garret on Cocker 
Hill at that time ; afterwards the worshippers removed 
to a smithy near Rassbottom. The first chapel was 
erected in 1819. It contained a gallery at one end. The 
building is still in existence, being used at present as 
a skip shop. In 1842, another chapel was built in 
Cross Street, which was found to be in the direct line 
of the railway. The chapel and graveyard were sold 
to the Railway Company and demolished, the remains 
being conveyed to the present burial ground at 
Wakefield Road. 

The Baptists held services in the Foresters' Hall 
for a time, until their present chapel, "Mount Olivet," 
was built. The Foundation Stone was laid June 25th, 
1846. The opening services took place March 8th, 1848. 
An organ was placed in the building in 1865, which cost 
;f32o, succeeded in 1906 by another large organ as a 
centenary memorial. Its list of pastors is as follows : — 
A. Barker . . . . 1806-1814 Rev. W. Evans . . 1864-1871 
Rev.W. Pickeringi8i6-i8i9 Rev.E.K.Everetti872-i876 
Rev. R.Abbott .1821-1825 Rev. S. Skingle. .1876-1879 
Rev. T. Smith . . 1826-1843 Rev. C. Rushby.1881- 
Rev. J. Sutcliffe.1844-1862 



The cost of the Chapel was about £2,000, and is 
built on freehold land. 


Originally part of the General Baptist community, 
this branch left the establishment in Cross Street, 
became known as " The Particular Baptists," and 
took up their quarters in a room known as " Myles 
Schofield's Garret," Old Street. The only means of 
access to the " Garret " (which is still in existence, as 
a photographic gallery) was across a foot-bridge, which 
connected the building with the steep brow-side of 
Cocker Hill. 

Although the locality is much changed since that 
time, these facts have been verified by old residents. 

As the cause of the " Ebenezers " grew, the accom- 
modation of the garret was not sufficient, and an offer 
being made by a local gentleman to erect a building 
for the purpose of Divine Worship, the ambitious and 
trusting people accepted the offer, and King Street 
Chapel, known as Mount Zion, was built in 1824. A 
disagreement arose between the Baptists and the 
owner of the Chapel, the result being that the worshippers 
migrated to Castle Hall, and built their present chapel, 
in Cross Leech Street, about 1836. The cost of the 
Chapel and Schools is given as /i,750. In 1906 the 
addition of an organ, and its dedication to the memory 


of the late Rev. A. Bowden and his wife, was a 
memorable event. The following is a list of the Pastors 
at this place since its formation : — 

Rev. C. Morrell..i827-i842 Rev. J. Ash ..1846-1868 
Rev. A. North . . 1869-1874 Rev. C. Evans . . 1874-1876 
Rev. H. C. Field. 1879-1883 Rev. A. Bowden 1886-1900 
Rev. E. Peake . . 1900-1904 

This School originated, according to its annals, from 
a number of persons who were connected with Chapel 
Street School, which was originally a School for all 
denominations. About the year 18 17, the idea of 
forming a school at Heyrod asserted itself, " and on the 
9th February of that year the Heyrod Union Sunday 
School for the first time opened its doors to all denomina- 

The school was held in '' a cellar — dark, damp, and 
uncomfortable." After a little while, fresh quarters 
were found, " these consisted of the two rooms of a 
cottage, situated at a place known by the classic name 
of Troy." According to the traditions of the school, 
" in religious sentiment the founders were chiefly 
Methodists, but, strongly attached as they were to 
their own community, they yet had the discernment 
to perceive that a School founded exclusively for 
denominational interests was not likely to command 


that support, which, in a small place like Heyrod, 
was necessary to carry it on with success. The school 
was consequently started on the widest ground of 
Christian toleration. No creeds were imposed, and no 
questions asked as to faith and doctrine, but all who 
were willing to labour for the common good were freely 

The project flourished and grew, until the pioneers 
and their friends began to think about possessing a 
school of their own ; their ideal being realised, when, 
" on the 9th of September, 1819, the new school was 
opened without any ceremony." 

The donations of the teachers, scholars, and friends, 
ranged from the modest 6d. to the handsome sum of 
£10 los. ; the number of subscribers was 171. A 
" deed " bearing the date of October 31st, 182 1, con- 
tains the names of the following persons, who were 
appointed the first Board of Trustees of the Heyrod 
Union Sunday School : — Neddy Shelmerdine, Wihiam 
Lawton, WiUiam Mills, James Lawton, Robert Lawton, 
Luke Lawton, James Schofield, James Worsnip, James 
Shelmerdine, Robert Kershaw, John Hurst, Robert 
Shelmerdine, John Lawton, Joseph Mills, James Norris, 
Joseph Roberts, Samuel Buckley, William Robinson, 
Samuel Schofield, Joshua Holt. 

The second Board of Trustees was appointed 30th 
July, 1849 ; the third, 20th May, 1876 ; the fourth 
and present Trustees were appointed 17th November, 


The Sunday School celebrated its Jubilee on the 9th 
February, 1867. The important dates in its history 
are chronicled as follows : Established 1817. School 
built, 1819. Enlarged 1868. The return given in the 
History of Lancashire, 1825, is as follows : " Heyrod 
School, scholars, 238 ; teachers, 80." 


The Primitive Methodist body has been in existence 
just over a hundred years, having had its origin at a 
place called Mow Cop, a prominent mountain and 
land-mark on the borders of Cheshire and Staffordshire. 

Its advent into Staly bridge occurred during the first 
quarter of last century. The earliest recorded meeting- 
room was a garret near Rassbottom, which, from the 
association of the Primitive Methodists, became known, 
locally, as " Ranter's Court." 

Services were held regularly in the year 1827, and 
five or six years later (1833) the little chapel in Grass- 
croft Street, with its small burial ground fronting 
Canal Street, was erected. For nearly sixty years the 
building served the requirements of the worshippers 
as chapel and school, and still forms part of the present 

In 1892 the existing chapel was built, and is a lasting 
credit to the energy of the worshippers ; the addition 


of a powerful organ adds to the musical part of the 
services. The cost of the chapel was £i,8oo. 

The transformation of the building, erected in 1833, 
has resulted in the provision of a commodious assembly 
room, and a number of smaller apartments which are 
used as class-rooms, etc. 


The Independents or Congregationalists began to be 
known in Stalybridge about 1823-4, ^^ which period 
a number of them followed the Particular Baptists in 
the occupation of " Myles Schofield's garret," as they 
also did a few years later in the tenancy of Mount Zion, 
or King Street Chapel. 

The Rev. Jonathan Sutcliffe, of Ashton-under-Lyne, 
preached in private houses in 1826-7. In 1830 the 
denomination began to increase, and formed a church 
in 183 1. For about four years they worshipped in 
King Street Chapel, and in 1834 secured a site on the 
Cheshire side of the river, where they built a chapel 
of their own, which was opened on Sunday, May 25th, 
1835, " with a pubhc prayer meeting, at seven o'clock 
in the morning." It is described as measuring " 45 
feet by 50," the cost being £1,500. 

The present church was erected on the same site, 
and opened in 1861, at a cost of £5,000. 


The principal subscriptions were as follows : 

/ I 

John Cheetham, Esq. 1166 Messrs. Benson . . 270 

John Knott, Esq. . . 300 Miss Churchill . . 250 

Mr. Kirk 200 J. F. Cheetham, Esq. 165 

Miss Cheetham.. .. 140 Miss Berry .. .. 120 

Mrs. Cheetham's class 130 G. H. Benson . . 75 

The Sunday School was built in 185 1, and was replaced 
by the present commodious buildings in 1906. 

Ministers of the Church since its formation : — ■ 
Rev. G. Hoyle . . 1830-1842 

Rev. F. C. Douthwaite . . 1844-1847 
Rev. R. Roberts . . 1847-1853 

Rev. J. C. McMichael . . 1853-1855 

Rev. J. H. Gwyther, B.A. . . 1857-1869 
Rev. J. Williamson, M. A. .. 1870-1879 
Rev. H. W. Holder, M.A. . . 1880-1884 
Rev. G. E. Cheeseman . . 1885-1900 
Rev. G. S. Walker . . 1902-1906 

Rev. A. E. Taylor . . 1907- 


About the year 1829-30 it is recorded that a 
** lawyer," named Mr. Bennett, took a piece of land 
near Grosvenor Square for the purpose of erecting 
thereon a first-class house, which was to stand in its 
own grounds. The present Bennett Street formed the 


boundary of one side of the plot, and was named after 
the purchaser of the land. The basement, cellar 
excavations, and foundations for the structure were 
almost completed when Mr. Bennett died, and the 
project collapsed. 

The Methodist New Connexionists bought the land 
as it was, and erected the present commodious chapel 
in 1831. On the completion of the building a strange 
rumour was circulated that the gallery was not safe, 
and people would not sit in it. The officials endeavoured 
to prove its stability by placing scores of tons of iron 
in it, as a test of its security ; seventy-five years have 
passed since that incident, and the gallery stands rigid 
and firm to-day. 

Bennett Street School was next built, and has served 
at different periods as a Day and Night school, as well 
as for its original purpose — that of a Sunday school. 


From a rare and scarce pamphlet, printed in King 
Street, Stalybridge, we glean the following particulars : 
" On Wednesday, the 25 th of September, a splendid 
Catholic Church, recently erected in Stalybridge, and 
dedicated to St. Peter, was consecrated by the Right 
Rev. Dr. Briggs, Bishop of the Northern District of 
England. This sacred edifice has been to a considerable 
extent raised by the voluntary contributions of the 


Operative Catholics in this town and neighbourhood, 
aided by the hberal subscriptions of their Protestant 
brethren of various denominations." The consecration 
sermon was dehvered in an eloquent and impressive 
manner by Dr. Wiseman, Principal of the English 
College at Rome, afterwards well known as Cardinal 
Wiseman. " At three o'clock, a banquet was held 
in the Stalybridge Town Hall, Thomas Ellison, Esq., 
of Glossop Hall, presided ; John Leech, Esq., acted 
as vice-president." Thirty clergymen of the Catholic 
faith were present, and about a hundred laymen, 
amongst whom were Abel Harrison, Esq., William 
Bayley, Esq., Henry Bayley, Esq., C. Bayley, Esq., 
Dr. Potter, John Wagstaffe, Esq., Henry Lees, Esq., 
Mr. Ockleshaw, etc. Notable speeches were made, 
and a memorable gathering passed pleasantly over. 
The date of the erection of the church is given as 1838, 
the cost being about ;f5,ooo. 

A beautiful oil painting was presented to this church 
by Henry Lees, Esq., Solicitor, of this town, and is 
still in existence. 

The following are the names of the principal Rectors 
who have been in charge of this church since its 
formation : Rev. J. K. Anderton, Rev. Canon Egan, 
Rev. Canon Hilton, Rev. Canon Carrol, Rev. Dr. 
O'Toole, Rev. Father Ryder, Rev. Father O' Grady. 



This denomination was, and is still, spoken of as 
" Bobby Kershaw's," the name arising from the fact 
that Mr. Robert Kershaw was one of the first promoters, 
if not the actual founder. The body first originated 
in a very humble way, and held its meetings in a small 
room off Quarry Street, which has done service in similar 
fashion upon other occasions. The little Sunday school 
progressed, until, about the year 1849, the idea of 
building a home, or Sunday school and church, asserted 
itself. The result was that by hard work and combination 
the present Booth Street chapel was erected. The 
project was ambitious, and for many years the struggling 
Methodists had a keen fight for existence. 

In 1877 the re-modelhng and renovation of the 
structure was carried out, the cost amounting to nearly 

Seating accommodation for 250 worshippers is 
provided. The church contains an organ which cost 


The movement was inaugurated in Stalybridge in 
i860. The pioneers were John Jackson, Joshua Cart- 
wright, Joseph Greenwood, Joseph Oliver, John 
Howard, Samuel Hurst, and James Kerfoot. The 
school was opened in a very humble fashion, in a 
portion of Hob Hill House, on the 13th July, 1862. 


The first officials consisted of a Board of three 
Directors — ^viz., John Jackson, George Garside, and 
Joseph Greenwood ; James Kerfoot, secretary, and 
Joseph Ohver, treasurer. 

The Sunday school progressed, and in the winter of 
1865 a series of Sunday evening services were held in 
the Foresters' Hall. 

The formation of the church dates from this time, 
and, as the number of worshippers increased, the 
People's Hall, Corporation Street, was selected for 
their purpose. The present church, in Canal Street, was 
erected, and opening services held in February, 1870. 
The site was given by Messrs. John and William Leech, 
together with £200 ; Mrs. and Miss Leech, £200 ; 
David Harrison, £50 ; Henry Bayley, £40 ; and Mr. 
Rupert Potter, £40. The total cost of the church was 
£1,163 ; cost of organ, £400. 

The foundation-stone of the present schools, in Albert 
Square, was laid by William Leech, Esq., on Whit- 
Friday, May i8th, 1883, amidst great rejoicing. There 
is in existence a well written booklet, dealing with the 
inception and growth of this place of worship. 

Ministers : 
Rev. F. Revitt, 1867-1871. Rev.W.Harrisoni888-i904. 
Rev.A.Ashworth,i872-i879. Rev. W. G. Price, 1904- 
Rev. J. Freeston, 1880-1888. 



About the year 1883, Mrs. John Frederick Knott, of 
Staveleigh, formed a class, or Mothers' Meeting, which 
assembled in a room for which that lady had arranged 
at one of the local Coffee Taverns. The idea took 
root and grew, until it was found advisable to have a 
meeting-room for the little body of worshippers. 

The first regular meeting-room was in a 
building situated below the line of the highway, near 
the Stamford Arms, and originally built for a currier's 
warehouse — the building has recently been demolished. 

The " Mission-Room " prospered, and eventually 
migrated across the town to a building in Cross Leech 
Street, which is still spoken of by those who were 
connected with it as " The Little Mission." 

After a stay in these premises for some years, a 
further move was made to " The Temperance Hall," 
where the work still prospers and thrives. 

The name of Mrs. Knott will ever be remembered in 
connection with the Gospel Mission Hall and its work. 
Since the death of that lady, the work has been carried 
on by a committee of energetic and willing workers. 



The following particulars have been gleaned from 
a record printed in 1825 regarding the number of 
teachers and scholars attending the Sunday schools 
in Stalybridge at that period. 

Methodist New Connexion . . 548 Scholars 63 Teachers 
Old Connexion .. 480 ,, 100 

General Baptists 200 

Particular Baptists 180 

Heyrod School 238 

Hydes School (New Connexion) 100 
Established Church S. School. 160 

Total . . 1906 






Sixteen years later, 1841, Butterworth published the 
following tables, in connection with the Sunday schools 
in Stalybridge : — 

Episcopal Schools 



• 4 









Scholars in Episcopal Schools . 

. 160 
. 1408 




. — 







Local Gleanings. 

(ri)after I. 

The Markets of Olden Times — List of Commissioners- 
Selecting the Site for the Market — Knowl Meadow ana Hyde's 
Fold — The Contractors — The Market Steps— Fish-Market and 
Lock-ups — Stalybridge Market on Saturday night — The Victoria 

"The fascination is over; the hand of time and change has fallen 
upon it — the scene is faded." 

Richard Wright Procter. 

mHE ''Market" or ''Market Place," during the 
opening years of last century, was situated in 
the vicinity of the " Angel Yard," and when the annual 
" Wakes " came round, the customary booths, etc., were 
erected on the " Bowling Green," which belonged to 
the Angel Inn, and was situated where the Fire Station 
is now built. In the year 1828, " The Stalybridge 
Police Act, an Act for lighting, watching, and other- 
wise improving the town of Stalybridge, .... for 
regulating the police, and erecting a Market Place 
within the said town," came into operation. 


The first Board of Police Commissioners was composed 
of the following gentlemen :— John Cook, Edward 
Hadfield, Thomas Orrell, Joseph Hatton, Jeremiah Lees, 
George Piatt, David Cheetham, David Harrison, James 
Bayley, James Adshead, Ralph Hall, Abel Bayley, 
Thomas Evans, John Leech, John Wagstaffe, John 
Vaudrey, Ralph Ousey, Henry Johnson, William 
Bardsley, George Booth, James Hall. 

The task of selecting a site for the proposed ^Market 
was well discussed, there being a division of opinion 
as to whether "Hyde's Fold" or " Knowl Meadow'* 
should be chosen. " Hyde's Fold " was situated on the 
plot immediately in front of the " old market entrance," 
in Market Street, and consisted of a typical Lancashire 
homestead — viz., The Village Inn, with its watering 
trough, the farrier's smithy, and most likely, at one 
period, the necessary " stocks." 

The " Knowl Meadow " was a plot of low-lying 
ground, now covered by the range of stone houses, 
stretching from the Portland Place bridge to Knowl 

On the 22nd April, 1829, i^ was decided " that the said 
]\Iarket be fixed at ' Hyde's Fold,' on the land leased 
to William Bardsley, belonging to Lord Stamford." 

The road known as Stamford Road had been recently 
constructed, and was called " Sheffield Road," its course 
requiring the demolition of a building marked as " John 
Cook's house," which stood almost opposite the spot 
occupied by the present entrance to the Police Station. 


On the 5th August, 1829, the Commissioners resolved 
" That a vote of thanks be presented to Lord Stamford 
for his valuable gift of land for the town's market." 

On January 6th, 1830, a request was made to Messrs. 
Worthington and Nichols asking whether Lord Stamford 
would be wiUing to give the land opposite George Cook's 
(the Spread Eagle Inn) for a public building, provided 
the Market was fixed at " Hyde's Fold." On January 
20th, 1830, the Commissioners decided " That the 
Market be fixed at ' Hyde's Fold,' and that land be 
obtained (if possible) , either in Knowl Meadow or behind 
George Cook's house, for an additional Market, and 
to make up the 1,200 yards promised by Lord Stamford ; 
a deputation to wait upon Messrs. Worthington and 
Nichols for the purpose of obtaining Lord Stamford's 
approbation." Mr. Worthington dechned, on behalf 
of Lord Stamford, to give the land. 

The " Commissioners " now set to work, plans were 
made, old cottages bargained for, tenants compensated, 
and the buildings, etc., demolished ; thus Hyde's Fold 
passed away, and left the site for the proposed Market. 
Estimates for the work were solicited, and the contract 
given to a firm of Huddersfield builders, named Howard 
and Johnson, the sum agreed upon for the erection of 
the Town Hall and Market being £4,100. Mr. Peter 
Johnson was engaged to superintend the work on 
behalf of the " Commissioners," and was paid " one 
pound per week, on account." 

On the i8th March, 1831, it was decided to make 
the addition to the original plans of "The Market 


Steps," and at the same time " to put in a breast 
wall by the side of the river, bounding the site of 
the Market Place." 

The " Town Hall and Market Place " were erected, 
and completed about the end of the year, and opened 
with great celebrations on December 31st, 1831, there 
being a procession through the town, in which " nine 
bands took part." 

The first ^Market-keeper was John Oldham, who was 
a " watchman," his duties consisted of " sweeping and 
cleaning out the Market, attending the place throughout 
the daytime and keeping order. His salary was 12s. 
per week. 

Several attempts were made towards the provision 
of a pubhc clock, "to be lighted up w^ith gas," which 
never resulted in anything being done. 

On the 5th April, 1839, ^^^ " Commissioners " 
decided that a " Pound " or " Pin-fold " for strayed 
cattle, etc., should be provided in the " Pot yard," 
which it is presumed occupied the site of the old 
" Fish Market and Lock-ups." 

The well-remembered Market-pump, and the grated 
openings which gave light and air to the passages and 
corridors underneath the Town Hall, were enclosed in 
1843, when the " Fish Market and Lock-ups " were 
erected by a contractor named Briscoe, at a cost 
of £700. About 1864-5 there started an agitation for 
a new Market, and many schemes were proposed, the 



principal one being that the buildings covering the site 
bounded by Market Street, and extending from King 
Street to Queen Street, should be purchased, and a 
Market erected in their place. 

Another idea was " that the river should be spanned 
by iron girders, near the Town Hall, and a Market 
erected thereon." The result, finally, was the present 
Victoria Market, the foundation-stone of which was 
laid by the Mayor, James Sidebottom, Esq., on the 
6th October, 1866, and opened to the public two years 
later, on Stalybridge Wakes Saturday, i8th July, 
1868, by the Mayor, James Kirk, Esq. 

There is in existence an old-time ballad, descriptive 
of '' Stalybridge Market on Saturday night," which 
introduces many well-remembered characters, such as 
Mustard Jack, Morris Yacoby, Billy Peg-leg, and others, 
together with a description of the sights and sounds 
to be seen and heard. It was intended to include the 
verses in this volume, but space will not permit. 

The following details in connection with the Victoria 
Market, etc., may be interesting: 

Cost of erection of Market 4500 o o 

Purchase of Land 21 18 6 8 

Cost of Victoria Bridge 1179 o o 

Cost of Retaining Wall on River Bank . . 446 o o 

Cost of Streets belonging to the Corporation 680 o o 

Total Cost ^8969 4 8 

Fish Market, erected in 1881 1600 o o 

Present value said to be ;^i23oo o o 


(ri)af>ter 2, 

Local Place-Names:— Flaggy Fields— New Town, the Piecer's 
Market — Wot-Hole Steps — The Old Hen-Cote — Sud Alley— 
Tabitha City— Waterloo— The Stumps— The Cock-pit. 

" All my early life being spent in ... . where I was bred, born, and schooled, 
I am naturally familiar with the scenes I have attempted to describe." 

William Harrison Ainsworth. 


' y I 'T the junction of three roads, on the summit 
^fJL^ of Ridge Hill, there is a triangular plot, or open 
space, which tradition says, is or was the site of a 
*' Gibbet." It must be remembered that in the " olden 
times " a great part of the traffic into Yorkshire passed 
this way, and even within the memory of some of our 
townspeople, there was quite a number of old Inns and 
Beerhouses hereabouts — viz., " The Hare and Hounds," 
which stood opposite to the large stone house near the 
quarry ; the " Black Horse," now known as " Clay 
Leeches " ; and the " Old House at Home," near the 
" Spinner's Folly." The wall-stile, known as " Flaggy- 
Fields stile," will lead the pedestrian to a foot-path 
which crosses the pastures, and winds down the slope 
towards Heyrod, and there is a network of by-paths, 
v/hich connected the homesteads of " Troy," " Little 
London," " Spout Brook," and " Three-cornered Nook." 
Three out of the four of these places have entirely 
disappeared of late years. The quaint, yet serviceable, 
path which gave the name to " Flaggy Fields " is 
beheved to have been the work of " The Ousevs," who 


carried on a woollen manufactory at Ridge Hill and 
Heyrod, the idea being that the '' flags " enabled the 
weavers to ascend and descend the slope with greater 
safety, as they bore their '' pads " upon their shoulders. 
We still listen to the description of " Flaggy Fields " 
when their surfaces were gay with pale primrose blooms, 
whilst even yet, in the early part of the summer, the 
delicate fragrance of the wild hyacinths in the little wood 
on the slope is perceptible. From this spot the view, 
when the day is suitable, is extensive, the dale with its 
manufactories, and the sloping uplands of Stayley and 
Micklehurst stretching far away, until hemmed in by the 
purple moorlands. The following is quoted from the 
MS. of a well-known gentleman, and is very descriptive : 
" These hills are the everlasting glories of Stalybridge, 
and almost identical in height and shape as they are I 
am always reminded, when I see them from Heyrod 
Road, of Rider Haggard's description of the mountains 
he calls ' Sheba's Breasts,' in his book ' King Solomon's 
Mines.' No two hills can be more like the swelling 
breasts of a fair woman than Wild Bank and Harridge. 
The former rises to 1,310 feet and the latter to 1,293 
feet above sea-level, and both afford most magnificent 
views ; that from Wild Bank, when standing on the 
footpath which crosses its summit, is certainly hard to 
beat. When looking south, the fair valley of Longden- 
dale lies at our feet, and with its background of the 
Peak District hills forms a truly noble landscape. We 
see Kinder Scout (2,088 feet high), the loftiest eminence 
of the Pennine Range, nine miles away ; also the 


conical peak of Axe Edge (1,807 feet), which hes 2i 
miles south-west of Buxton ; whilst, nearer home, the 
grey towers of Marple and Mottram churches, and the 
tall spire of Gee Cross, are easily visible, and even the 
Stockport churches may be seen with the naked eye 
when the atmosphere is clear. 

" North and west of our standpoint, and generally 
half hidden by a pall of smoke, hes the most densely 
populated and the richest district in the world. The 
best time to get a good view is late on a Sunday after- 
noon in the summer time, and preferably after rain has 
faUen, then, if you are lucky, you may catch a ghmpse 
of a sun-lit sea at Formby, near Southport, 45 miles 
away to the west, and occasionahy one can make out 
the purple outlines of the Welsh mountains beyond 
Wrexham, in the south-west, nigh on 60 miles off. 

" Stalybridge may not be exactly a lovely town, but 
here at its very gates we have scenery of which one can 
never tire, and mountain air of the purest and most 
health-giving nature. I have been permitted to see 
many of the beauty spots of this earth in Europe, Asia, 
Africa, and America, and possibly I may be considered 
a bad judge, but in my eyes there is nothing in the wide 
world which surpasses the view from Wild Bank, looking 
south, when the heather is in bloom, and the sun is 
sinking in the west at the close of a summer's day. 
God has been very good to us in giving us this hill." 

The comparative heights of the neighbouring hills 
are : Hough Hill 800 feet, Hartshead Pike 800, Harrop 


Edge 1,000, and Biicton 1,126 feet. Across the Lan- 
cashire plain the crest of Blackstone Edge is seen, 
and on a very clear day the heights of Rivington Pike 
(1,498 feet) can be detected. One hundred and twenty 
years ago the vales before us were filled with forest 
trees, no canal existed, no turnpike road, and no railway 
track ; then it was that the pack-horse and the rumbling 
stage-coach bore their respective freights along the 
dusty crest of Ridge Hill. 


The late Ralph Bates, Esq., once referred to the 
district of Castle Hall in a speech, and said, " When I 
was a lad, and was sent an errand up Castle Hall, it was 
always spoken of as New Town. Castle Street and its 
approach were known as ' Paradise,' and when a 
messenger was sent from this side by way of Castle 
Street, he was generally told to go up the ' Coach Road.' " 
This statement is interesting, because very few people 
were better acquainted with the town than he. The 
neighbourhood of Castle Street obtained the name of 
" Paradise " from the fact that prior to the establishment 
of the mills it was covered, as we are told, with " orchards 
of fruit trees and corn fields, with here and there a 
farmer's cottage." The rapid development of trade 
and commerce swept all these associations into oblivion. 


It was the custom for unemployed operatives to 
assemble on the old Caroline Street bridge, and to wait 


for the spinners needing pieceis and scavengers. The 
bridge was built of brick, and consisted of a single 
arch which spanned the river ; on either side was a low 
stone parapet, just high enough to sit upon. The 
place could be seen from the numerous mills about, 
and if there was a piecer short anywhere it was a 
common thing for the spinner to look through the mill 
window to see if there were any " in the market." A 
case is recorded where the cotton master, passing through 
the spinning rooms, noticed a spinner being short- 
handed, and stripping off his coat he stepped into the 
jenny-room and took the spinner's place while that 
individual went to find a piecer. 


" Wot Hole steps " was a passage, or public road, to 
the river, and is now covered by the premises of the 
" Manchester and County Bank." Its name originated 
from the fact that there existed in the lower portion 
a trough or cistern, into which the condensed water 
from the steam engine at Hatchett's mill found its way. 
The water was used by the neighbours for domestic 
purposes. Hathett's, or Hatchett's mill, was situated 
on or near the site of Messrs. Brownson's shop. It was 
a building consisting of a cellar and three or four storeys. 
The engineer was the father of the late Mr. Alfred Nield, 
who, in addition to " minding the engine," was a shoe- 
maker. It is recorded that the Kershaws, cotton 
spinners of Guide Bridge, commenced business at this 



This mill was situated in Chapel Street, the site being 
now covered by a lodging-house. The building con- 
sisted of a basement and three or more storeys, It has 
been recorded that this was the site of the original 
" Bastile." In its latter days the place was used as a 
hat manufactory, and is well remembered because there 
was a public road which connected Chapel Street and 
Shepley Street, in a diagonal line, behind the old mill. 


The place known as Sud Alley was a narrow passage 
which led into Water Street from the rear of " Orrell's 
Mill." The reason for its title is said to have originated 
from the fact that a cistern, which was fed by the 
condensed water of the mill-engine, was used by the 
neighbours, some of whom took their washing and did 
it on the spot. In consequence of the amount of soap 
used there was a constant stream of water trickling 
towards Water Street, which was then known as " Dirty 
Street," and from this nuisance the passage became 
know^n as " Sud AUey." 


" Tabitha City " was the name given to a few cottages 
which existed in the rear of the new shops, near the 
King's Arms. The entrance to the place was along a very 
narrow passage, which was nearly opposite to Mr. Lees' 
Druggist's Shop. The ancient building, now known as 
the " Talbot Inn," was at one period the residence 


of a cotton master, whilst another similar residence, 
with iron palisades in front of it, and an open space, 
occupied the site now covered by the " King's Arms." 
This house is described as being ** in a lonely situation, 
surrounded by tall trees, through which the wind whistled 
at night, with nothing in front of it but trees and shrubs, 
which covered the sloping ground to the river's edge." 


The district known as '' Waterloo " doubtless 
originated about 1816, and was at one period a very 
select neighbourhood. The slopes of the Hague were 
covered with trees, and the construction of the " Man- 
chester and Holehouse Turnpike Road," now known as 
Wakefield Road, had not been thought about. 

Three footpaths led from " Rassbottom " to the 
*' Hague." The one now forming a portion of King 
Street was a private road ; that which was transformed 
into a flight of steps is a continuation of Back King 
Street ; and the one recently closed, which led from 
the " Red Lamp," to the " George Hotel " was public. 
The " George Hotel " was once the residence of John 
Wagstaffe, Esq. The large house near the Fire Station, 
now occupied by Mr. H. Stokes, was built by James 
Hall, Esq., of King Street Mills, and was, within the 
memory of many, a typical manufacturer's home. In 
front of it was a large plot filled with fruit trees, behind 
it a kitchen garden, which stretched up the hillside. 
The entrance to Mellor Brow was through a wicket gate. 
Even in our own time the front of the old house was 


known as " Piatt's Garden," where the spring blossoms 
whitened the thorn fences. 


" The Stumps " were two sets of massive stone posts, 
which carried a " gallows-gate," on the upper edge of 
which was fixed a thick iron plate, into which was 
riveted a row of savage looking triangular spikes to 
prevent lads from swinging thereon. One set of these 
posts was fixed at the entrance to "Waterloo" proper; 
the other at the end of the short street which led to the 
" Bowling Green." There was no public road for 
vehicles direct from Market Street to King Street, or 
from Hadfield Street to King Street. The barriers were 
kept fastened with chains and padlocks. Prow Street, 
or Proud Street, now known as Half Street, was simply 
used by pedestrians. 

THE COCK prr. 

This place is situated near Messrs. Dawson's Works, 
off Stamford Street, and was notorious as the rendezvous 
of the lovers of " cock fighting." Tradition says that 
the magistrates determined to put a stop to the practice, 
and ordered a raid to be made at the first opportunit}^ 
The time arrived, and the sporting fraternity assembled 
in large numbers. A constable w^as sent to reconnoitre, 
but he returned breathless to his superior, with the 
intelligence that " All the big gentlemen in Stalybridge 
are there." There is no record of the raid being 
effected ! 


(Tbapter 3. 

Old Customs and Pastimes— Staley Wood Rush-Cart-Bull- 
Baiting-Peace-Egging— Bon-Fires— " Past Ten o'clock "-Well- 

" Even in this lettered age, not all are lettered." 


*^^HE ancient festival of " Rush Bearing" was a 
\9 time-honoured custom with the inhabitants of 
Stalybridge in the past. Scarcely had the " Peace- 
eggers " of Easter-tide laid their spangles and dresses 
aside, than the subject of choosing the dancers for 
escorting the Rush Cart was discussed. It was the 
unwritten law that the old dancers and musicians 
should act as tutors and teachers to the new ones. 
Aspirants were allowed to give a specimen of their 
abilities, and a system of " practice neets " was 

The wives and sweethearts of the dancers began to 
prepare their " doncin' clooas," competing keenly as 
to who should be the finest dressed. Spangles, ribbons, 
beads, and lace, were lavishly sewn on to the garments. 
The dancers wore " fine linen shirts and velvet breeches." 
Garlands of flowers were made with which to adorn the 
horses, and the Rush Cart had a special cover. On one 
occasion tradition says that such a cover cost over 
" thirty pounds," owing to the elaborate design in 


The science of building a Rush Cart was an art 
known to but very few, and w^as chiefly carried out 
under the practised eye of some expert " thatcher." 
The principal portion of the rushes used were gathered 
in the marshy lands of Staley and the neighbourhood 
of the " Brushes," but a special kind, which were 
called " binding rushes," could not be obtained nearer 
than " Fidler's Green," a place some miles beyond 

Young men of those days thought little of setting off 
on the Saturday afternoon and walking to the place 
where the rushes grew, staying on the spot all night, 
and when daylight came gathering as many as they 
could bundle together and carry away. With their 
loads upon their backs they would return to Stalybridge, 
arriving home on the Sunday night. The building of 
the Rush Cart was watched by those interested with 
keen delight, the climax being reached when the 
decorated cover was fastened on the front of the 
structure. Attached to the cover were numerous 
articles of value, lent by the supporters of the festival, 
viz., silver watches, tea spoons, ladles, brooches, and 
even tea-pots and copper kettles. Whenever the 
Stalybridge Rush Cart and its dancers met those of 
Ashton or Dukinfield, it was the signal for trouble and 
strife, and many serious conflicts occurred, when '' Rush 
Cart Lads were bonny oh ! " It was the custom on 
the demolition of the Rush Cart to place the rushes in 
the aisles and pews of the churches for the worshippers 
to walk on. 



A favourite attraction during the period of the Annual 
Wakes, was the exciting, but somewhat degrading 
sport, known as Bull-baiting. 

The custom was to obtain a bull noted for its ferocity, 
which was tethered by means of a long rope to a tree 
stump or other suitable post, and while thus fastened, 
dogs specially bred and trained for the purpose were 
set upon the animal. 

One man acted as master of the ceremonies, and his 
duty was to see that only one dog was slipped at a 
time. The men who had entered their dogs were ranged 
in a line, against a wall or fence, and when all was 
ready, their positions having been chosen by lot, the 
first man would slip his dog at the bull, and if the dog 
succeeded in pinning the animal by the nose, and 
holding on, it was supposed to have won. In the great 
majority of cases the dog was caught on the horns 
of the bull and tossed up into the air, sometimes higher 
than the neighbouring houses, and was either killed 
outright or maimed in such a manner as to be of no 
further use. Occasionally the rope by which the bull 
was fastened would break, and the people would rush 
from the place in all directions, limbs being broken 
in the scrimmage. 

It w^as the practice to " bait the bull " for three 
days in succession, when the animal was eventually 
slaughtered, and the carcase sold at a very low price 
to the poorer classes. A common saying in the town 


was : *' It's as tough as bull beef." Prizes were offered 
by the local publicans to the competing dogs, the 
trophy being usually a brass or leathern collar. Bulls 
were baited on the " Hague," on the site of Grosvenor 
Square, the " Bowling Green," and on a plot of land 
near the present Victor Mill. 


The custom of young folks, chiefly lads and youths, 
going from house to house during Easter- tide dressed 
in fantastic garments and performing a rhyming play, 
was a feature of this district. It is still remembered 
vividly by the elders of the town, who in their days 
doubtless took pari: in the antics of St. George, Bold 
Slasher, Lord Nelson, and the indispensable " Little 
Devil Doubt," with his besom and his final threat, 

" If you don't give me money I'll sweep 
you all out." 
A veteran, lately passed away, during a visit paid 
by the writer, referred to his experiences as follows : — 

'' We were always sure of getting something at the 
house of Mr. and Mrs. Piatt, not from Mr. Piatt, but 
from his lady. Sometimes there would be twelve or 
fourteen of us, and a rough lot we were. Ranged against 
the wall of the yard near the house, we went through 
our play-acting, and on its conclusion we each got a 
gill pot full of milk and a new-laid egg, together with 
a threepenny bit. Ah ! Masters were masters in those 



The celebration of the " Fifth of November " has 
ever been a favourite custom with the younger portion 
of the inhabitants, and many serious accidents resulted 
from the use of firearms and gunpowder. 

Almost every household had amongst its chattels a 
gun of some description, which was used in these 
celebrations, and the inflammable nature of the material 
used in the local industries made it necessary for the 
authorities to take precautionary measures against 
fire, and warnings were annually issued by placard 
and through the medium of the " Bellman," against 
the use of " Firew^orks, Gunpowder, and Firearms." 
The bon-fires were sometimes of large proportions, for 
coal could be bought at the pit mouth at from ^^d. to 
4d. per cwt., and the anniversary fires sometimes burned 
and smouldered for several days. 

Small cannons were used by the lads, whilst the 
elders would occasionally procure a discarded ship's 
gun, the supervision of the firing of which was entrusted 
to some veteran pensioner, and the detonations of the 
explosions would echo and re-echo, startling the 
inhabitants from one end of *' Rassbottom " to the 


The custom of the Watchman shouting out the time 
of the night, thus : " Past ten o'clock ; keep your 


windows and doors locked," is of very ancient origin, 
and was revived during the rule of the " PoUce Com- 

There was a proposition before that body deahng 
with the provision of a " PubUc Clock," which was to 
have " two dials and to be lighted up with gas." The 
economic authorities appear to have " shelved " the 
question, and as a substitute, doubtless, passed the 
following resolution : — " September loth, 1841. That 
the watchmen call the hour of the night from 10 p.m. 
to 5 a.m. until some other arrangement relating thereto 
shall be made." 

On the 4th March, 1842, the following resolution was 
passed : — " That the crying of the hour by the Watch- 
men be discontinued." Four years later the matter of 
a '' Public Clock " was again discussed, April 2nd, 1846 : 
— " That the Clerk do advertise for estimates for the 
erection of a turret for the intended Clock." " The 
Turret " was erected, and still adorns the roof of the 
Town Hall, without a clock. The following may be the 
explanation of a further change of policy. August 
30th, 1848 : — " That in future the Watchman be 
instructed to call the hour of 10 at night and 5 in the 


The supply of water for domestic purposes was 
obtained in various ways ; that required for cooking 
was carried from the wells, springs and pumps, of which 


there are few traces left whilst for ordinary purposes 
the well-remembered rain-tubs, with their wood spigots, 
furnished a supply. The condensed water from the mills 
and the river, to which latter there were many public 
roads, was also available ; then, again, there were 
people who carried water at so much per burn-can. 
A noted well was situated near the Bowling Green, 
and was known as " Mellor's Drop " ; two splendid 
wells existed near Mount Pleasant, whilst " Cook's 
Well " near Ridge HiU Lane and the one existing at 
" Rhodes," half way up Ridge Hill, are still shown on 
the Ordnance Survey maps. Some years ago, whilst 
necessary repairs were in progress near King Street a 
large and neatly shaped well shaft of considerable depth 
was discovered, doubtless the supply at some period of 
one of the neighbouring inns for brewing purposes ; 
having fallen into disuse it had been covered over and 
forgotten. The famous " Yorkshire Row Pump " has 
been made the subject of a song, one verse of which 
runs as follows : — 

" The Brushes with its rising ground 
With reservoirs will soon abound ; 
Its brooks and streams are good, I know, 
But nowt like th' pump in Yorkshire Row." 

From i860 to 1870 there were several dry summers, 
and people felt the scarcity of water. In many houses, 
taps were unknown ; the result was that the wells were 
appreciated, and one which had never failed in its supply 
was selected by the grateful neighbours for the cele- 



bration of the ancient and time-honoured custom of 
" well-dressing." 

The time selected was vStalybridge Wakes, 1869, 
which commenced on July 17th, and the occasion was 
one to be remembered. Messrs. Leech, of Grosvenor 
Street Mills, furnished the necessary material and 
labour required in the erection of a framework, etc., 
above the well, which was situated near " Leech's 
tunnel." Beautiful garlands of flowers and festoons 
of foliage were fixed and looped as decorations, 
streamers of bunting and gaily coloured flags adding to 
the effect, whilst prominent above all were the mottoes 
** Success to the spring, may it never cease to flow," 
and " Success to the well." 

The residents of the streets and approaches entered 
into friendly rivalry in their efforts at decorating their 
own houses. The Shepherd's Band was in evidence 
and supplied choice selections, whilst crowds of towns- 
people and visitors who ascended the slope were 
invited to " drink from the well." No charge was made, 
a box being provided for voluntary offerings, which 
were handed over to the representatives of the District 
Infirmary. Such, then, was the last of the Stalybridge 
Weil-Dressings, and although almost forgotten it was 
most interesting to hear the older residents talk about 
it, when they saw the photograph which uas on view 
in the recent Jubilee Exhibition. 


Quaint Gleanings from the Past— The Staley Wood Club, 
iyg2_The First Machine-Shop —The Blanketeers — Millbrook — 
The Post-Offices of the Past— Body Snatching. 

" Pursuit of knowledge under difficulties." 

Lord Bruti^havi. 


mHERE existed in the year 1792 a society for mutual 
instruction in Staley Wood, a fact which is 
verified by reference to the list of subscribers in Aiken's 
History of Manchester. On the second page of the said 
list win be found the name of " John Bower for Staley 
Wood Club." Another proof is the following extract 
from the memoirs of a local worthy : — 

" At the age of 18 (1796) I was a member of a book 
club consisting of 26 members, which was continued 
for many years. . . . We established a conversation 
club and drew up a number of rules for our guidance, 
one of which prohibited the discussion of any political 
or religious subject. We had members from Ashton, 
Dukinfield, Newton, and Mossley ; sometimes we held 
our meeting at Ashton, to accommodate our friends 
from Oldham, Royton, and other places, and I can truly 
say I gathered more sound intellectual knov>^ledge in 
connection with that club than at any period of my 

The writer has in his possession a book which belonged 
to a similar society at Mossley, founded in 1792. The 
volumxC has the society's label affixed within its covers. 



About the year 1800-01 there existed a firm of 
machinists, whose name was '' Hartley and Woodcock." 
Their workshop was located in the attic of a three 
storeyed building, which stood on the site now covered 
by the " Fire Station." The place is well remembered, 
and was known as " Old Jenny Booth's Garret." The 
entrance was by way of a large entry in '* Hall's Court," 
across a yard, and up an external flight of stone steps 
to the second floor, whence another set of steps or 
stairs led to the workshop. 

Whilst '' Hartley and Woodcock " were in business 
here, they made jennies of the '* enormous size of 
20 dozens," and it is recorded that from these machines 
a spinner could earn from thirty shillings to two pounds 
per week, by working from four or five o'clock in the 
morning until eight and nine o'clock at night. 

" Hartley and Woodcock " became bankrupt after a 
few years, owing to troublous times. 


There was about the year 1817 a certain class of 
operatives who organised themselves into a society, 
and met in the " dead of the night " to discuss " reform." 
Their place of assembly was a cellar near the " Bowling 
Green." These men were known as " Jacobins," but 
in later years were called ** Blanketeers." 

One of the leading spirits was a blacksmith named 
John Cocker, who was a man of more than ordinary 


intelligence, being gifted as a speaker and reader. The 
names of the members of this society have been preserved, 
and the list includes the following : — ^James Swindells, 
John Tinker, William Piatt, Josiah Knott, Samuel 
Nield, John Nield, James Nield, Thomas Hague, John 
Norton, Joseph Norton, James Lees, Jonathan Cowgill, 
and others. Newspapers were expensive luxuries in 
those days, and it was the custom for one of the number, 
whenever they met, to read aloud to the party. 

Political feeling ran very high, and on the inauguration 
of the *' Blanketeer Movement " many Stal3/bridge men 
joined the scheme. The project was that a large body 
of Lancashire operatives should march to London, and 
lay the grievances of the people before the Government. 
Each man must provide himself with a blanket, which 
was folded up and carried on the shoulders like a knap- 
sack. On the loth March, 1817, the Stalybridge 
detachment left the village and marched to Stockport, 
where it was arranged that they should meet the 
Manchester and Oldham sections. Arrived at the 
appointed place, they found a large number of Dragoons 
and other soldiers waiting for them, who soon dispersed 
the " Blanketeers." Some of the more daring spirits 
evaded the soldiers, and eventually reached London. 

Jonathan Cowgill, of Stalybridge, was one, and 
having sought and obtained an interview with Lord 
Sidmouth, he and his companions explained their 
mission. His Lordship listened patiently, and kindly 
advised them to return to their country homes, supple- 


meriting his remarks with a present of ten shilhngs to 
each man. 

Jonathan CowgiU returned to Stalybridge somewhat 
sun-burned and weather-stained, and was for a time 
famous on account of his adventure. Cowgill in after 
years became book-keeper and cashier at one of the 
local mills. 


The earliest post master we can find mention of is 
Mr. James Buckley, who held that office in Stalybridge 
in 1818. Further information states that " Letters arrive 
at Twelve at Noon, are sent off at Five in the Evening, 
by a foot-post, to meet the mails at Manchester." 

In the year 1825 we find that the post mistress was 
Mrs. Mary Ann Mather, Post Office, Bowling Green. 
" Letters arrive from Manchester every morning at 8, 
and are despatched at 3 afternoon." 

The identical house was one of three which stood 
opposite to the King Street Chapel, and was used as 
a shop prior to its demolition a few years ago. In the 
wall of the building which came next to Bell's Court, 
there was a portion of the brickwork which was newer 
than the rest, where the post office window had been 
built up. 

In 1848. " The Post Office, Rassbottom Street. 
Post-master, Dekin Cheetham. Letters arrive from all 
parts (from I^.Ianchester) every morning at half-past 


seven, and every afternoon at half-past five, and are 
despatched thereto every evening at half -past six 
and nine." 


Millbrook, or Staley Mill, was up to the year 1793 
little more than a hamlet or fold, there being nothing 
but a narrow lane or pack horse road to Stalybridge. 
The old road is shown in the ancient maps, winding 
through the dale from the Roman road at Swineshaw, 
towards the Scout, a branch also going by way of Besom 
Lane towards Hyde Green. The construction of the 
turnpike road from Stalybridge to Saddleworth opened 
up a good connection, and the growth of Millbrook 
dates from that time. In 1803 it is recorded that 
Millbrook itself contained only eight houses, including 
the old ToUbar House, and four years later (1807), 
we learn that there existed a cotton mill known as 
Staley Mill. According to the description referred to, 
the mill was " a building seven windows long, including 
the staircase, and four storeys high ;" the largest spinning 
mules it could contain would be 23J dozens. 

The bottom room was used for carding and slubbing, 
and was sub-let to Mr. Abel Hyde, of Moorgate. The 
place was turned by a water wheel fed from the Swine- 
shaw Brook. The owner of the mill was Mr. Hugh 
Kershaw. In the year 1814 the place passed into the 
hands of Mr. Saville Smith, who enlarged the building 
by adding two windows at the end nearest the brook. 
A small steam engine was now put down at the back 


of the mill. Woollen manufacture was now discontinued 
in the lower room, and cotton carding introduced in 
its place. Financial troubles overtook Mr. Smith about 
the year 1821-2, and the mill was stopped for a long 
time, until Messrs. Harrison, of Stalybridge, bought the 
concern and' restarted it. In 1837 ^ disastrous fire 
broke out, which almost levelled the place to the 
ground. Fortunately for the operatives no time was 
lost in its re-erection, for there is a record of " the 
rearing supper," which took place on the 26th November, 
1837. As soon as the place was roofed in, machinery 
and shafting were delivered, and in March, 1838, a pair 
of mules were started, whilst on the Wakes Tuesday 
(23rd July) a grand dinner party was given by Messrs. 
Harrison to their workpeople. 

The employees of the firm at Millbrook and Stalybridge 
met, and formed a procession at Rassbottom Mills, and 
marched, headed by the Stalybridge Old Band, to 
Millbrook. The number of persons may be judged 
when we quote that " the procession reached from 
the mill door at Millbrook to Spindle Point, Copley, 
near the Reindeer Inn." 

On the 5th August, 1855, a great flood occurred. The 
water from the brook found its way into the weaving 
shed and carried some of the looms away, whilst two 
days later there was a repetition, the depth of water 
being 4 feet loi inches, causing great damage to 
machinery and material. 



The practice of robbing the silent grave of its inmate 
was once very common in the neighbourhood of Staly- 
bridge, and memorials of the custom in the shape of 
"Resurrection stones" may be seen in the burial ground, 
Cocker Hill, it being usual, after the interment of a 
coffin, to lower a large block of stone on to the casket 
before re-filhng the cavity with earth. 

The late Mr. Wilham Chadwick, in his book of 
Reminiscences, deals with the subject at length, and 
mentions particularly the case of the Stalybridge youth, 
Lewis Brierley, whose body was taken from the tomb 
in Mottram Churchyard, and where the following 
inscription may still be seen: — ■ 

'' In memory of Lewis Brierley, son of James and 
Mary Brierley, of Valley Mill, who died Oct. 3rd, 1827, 
in the 15th year of his age. 

" Mary, wife of the above-mentioned James Brierley, 
who died April 9th, 1828, in the 43rd year of her age." 

"Though once beneath the ground his corpse was laid, 

For use of surgeons it was thence conveyed, 

Vain was the scheme to hide the impious theft, 

The body taken, shroud and coffin left ; 

Ye wretches who pursue this barbarous trade. 

Your carcases in turn may be conveyed 

Like his, to some unfeeling surgeon's room, 

Nor can they justly meet a better doom." 

James Brierley was a woollen manufacturer, and at 
one period worked the " Old Greasy Mill," Old Street. 
His son Lewis, a very fine youth for his years, was 


accidentally killed by the kick of a horse belonging" to 

his father. A friend of the family, Mr. HoUinworth, 

of Newton Moor, heard of the accident and visited 

Brierley, at the same time offering a place for the 

deceased in his family vault within the precincts of 

Mottram Church. The funeral party arrived at their 

destination, but considerable delay occurred before the 

sexton could be found. Darkness was closing in, and 

instead of being buried, as intended, inside the church, 

the coffin was interred in a grave which had been 

prepared for somebody else, and which grave was near 

the outer wall of the church yard. The final part of 

the interment had to be performed by candle light. 

The mother of the deceased was ill and did not attend 

the funeral, and she was much troubled when she 

learned how matters had been carried out. A strange 

idea took possession of her, and in order to satisfy his 

wife, Brierley went time and again to his son's grave 

to ascertain if anything had been disturbed. James 

Brierley was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and 

during one of his visits to the churchyard he met a 

brother craftsman, who inquired the reason for his 

frequent visits. Brierley's answer was that his wife 

suspected that " Lewis had been taken." " Yes," 

said his friend, " and your wife is right ; the lad has 

been taken." Nothing more was said at the time. 

As will be seen by the epitaph quoted, the mother 
died about six months after the son, and Brierley had 
a new grave made. By a singular coincidence the 
grave in which his son had been interred was re-opened 


on the day of the funeral, upon seeing which, Brieiiey 
and one of his friends immediately descended and 
lifted out the cofhn of '* Lewis," which was found to 
contain only the shroud. Brierley was a man not to be 
trifled with. He exhibited the empty coffin of his son 
on the " Crown Pole Steps," and called upon his 
" Brethren " to help him to trace the desecrators of 
the tomb. He even came down to Stalybridge for 
strong ropes, with which he fastened the coffin to the 
pole. The miscreants remained undiscovered. The 
coffin was brought to Stalybridge, and the father had 
it re-mounted and polished, keeping it for his own use. 
The writer has verified these facts by inquiries from 
the family, one of whom remembers the empty coffin, 
and was present when Brierley himself was placed in it. 
James Brierley died at his residence in Old Street, 
Stalybridge, on the 20th September, 1853, and was 
interred in the burial ground of the Ebenezer Baptist 
Chapel, Cross Leech Street, where a double vault, 
covered with huge flat stones, may be seen from the 

Brierley always suspected that the sexton at Mottram 
was connected with the disappearance of his son's body, 
and never allowed any opportunity to pass without 
telling him so. To such an extent did this custom 
grow that the sexton dared not come to Stalybridge. 
The sequel is but traditional : — " One night as James 
Brierley was seated by his fireside, a visitor cam.e to 
the door with a message that ' Mr. Brierley was wanted 
on Cocker Hill.' 


On arrival at the place Brierley found a man lying 
on his death-bed, one who had been considered a friend 
of the family, and who even attended the funeral of 
' Lewis.' In the presence of his wife the expiring 
man confessed that he was the one who had taken the 
body, and that the suspected sexton was entirely 
innocent. It is said that James Brierley went to 
Mottram early next morning and expressed his sorrow 
to the man he had long suspected, at the same time 
begging his forgiveness." 

The Mill Schools— The Uames' Schools— Private Schools and 
Academies — Night Schools — The Educational Institute. 

" When I was a lad, if we wanted to climb, we had first 
to make our own ladders." 

Ben Brierley. 


V^^HE " Factory School " was often located in the 
^^J " Warehouse," or near the " Lodge." At one 
mill the schoolmaster acted as " Lodge-keeper and 
RoUer-coverer, in addition to his duties as teacher. It 
is said that this worthy had a piece of brass gas-piping, 
which he used as a " cane " in the cases of obstinate or 
unruly pupils, but whether he did or not some of the 
lads who passed through his hands became in after 
years successful manufacturers and business men. 
One noted schoolmaster of this type had been a soldier, 


who had followed the fortunes of war under the Iron 
Duke, and many of our old townspeople can give vivid 
word-portraits of him, especially of the periods known 
as " pension days." The children in many cases taught 
each other the little they had learned at home. These 
MiU Schools opened at six o'clock in the morning, and 
at half-past ten in the forenoon the scholars were 
dismissed and sent into the mill, another set, who had 
been at work, taking their places. 

The hour for leaving work at night was supposed to 
be seven o'clock, but it was seldom the hands got away 
at that time. The subsequent formation of the " British 
Schools " in Stalybridge and Dukinfield abolished this 
system, the mill children being sent to the new institu- 
tions, which were known as " Half-time Schools." 

Night schools were formed in various parts of the 
town, where intelligent operatives acted as teachers to 
their fellow workers. A school of this description was 
founded in Ridge Hih Lane, about i860, which developed 
into the present " Working Men's Institute." 


The question of education was well considered by 
the better classes, who sent their sons to be trained at 
various places. The Moravian College at Fairfield was 
the nearest high-class school. Many of our local cotton 
masters were educated there. In 1818, there appears 
to have been only one recognised school in Stalybridge, 
situated on Cocker Hill, the schoolmaster being Nathan 


Seven years later, 1825, the number had increased to 
five, Cocker Hill School, John Brookes, master ; Chapel 
Street School, William Watson, master ; and three 
others which cannot be located, under the control of 
Solomion Cartwright, Thomas Hyde, and John Hussey. 
The children who worked in the mills got very little 
schooling, except that which they obtained at the 
Sunday Schools, where they were taught to read and 
write in copy books. The action of the authorities in 
connection with the " factory children " miade it 
compulsory that the employers should give each child 
employed a certain number of hours per day in school. 
The old-fashioned " Dames' Schools " existed, of which 
there is this record : — 

Mary Whitehead, Schoolmistress, Stamford Street. 

Jessie Sutcliffe, ,, Mount Pleasant. 

James and Mary Holmes, Canal Street. 

Mary and Jane Davies, Bennett Street. 

Lister Ives, Grosvenor Street. 

James Shaw, Set Street. 

Henry Schofield, Beaumont Square. 

The rapid growth of Stalybridge and the inauguration 
of the various Churches and Chapels offered many 
opportunities for the establishment of day schools. In 
1848 there existed the following : — 

British School, Kay St., Schoolmaster,George Thomas. 
Catholic School, Spring Bank St., Mistress, Maria Lees. 
National School, Hey Heads, Schoolmaster, William 

G. Barlow 


National School, Copley, ,, Alexander Smith. 

National School, Millbrook, ,, Thomas Howard. 

People's School, Brierley St., ,, John Avison. 

Mount Pleasant Academy, ,, Robert Smith. 

Chapel Street School, ,, Thomas Smith. 

About 1851-2 there was formed a society in " Castle 
Hall," known as the " Educational Institute," from 
which originated the *' People's Educational Institute," 
or " People's Hall," now known as the " Grand 
Theatre." This building was erected in the " Early 
Sixties " of the last century. A document dated 7th 
May, 1861, drawn up by Mr. Noah Buckley, as Sohcitor 
to the Company, contains the names of the Board of 
Directors as under : — William Hill, James Rams- 
bottom, George Frederick Tyne, John Street, Edmund 
Betts, William Hilton, Thomas Hodson, Jabez Pagden, 
John Cartey and William Belfield, the last named 
being a member of the present directorate of the 
company ; whilst its legal matters are still in the 
hands of the firm of solicitors which bears Mr. 
Buckley's name. Its first annual meeting was held on 
the 25th October, 1864, when the officials consisted 
of the following persons as directors :— Isaac Newton 
(President) ; William Hill (Secretary) ; James Willerton, 
James Ramsbottom, George Haigh Green, Richard 
Brereton, George Frederick Tyne, William Evans 
(No. i), Wihiam Evans (No. 2), John Street, andWilham 
Hilton. The cost of the People's Institute was about 
;fi,200, and that of the shops in Melbourne Street, 
also owned by the Institute, £653. 


(Tl^apter 6. 

The First Fire Engine and Fire Brigade — The Turnover from 
the Subscribers to the Commissioners — The Old Brigade— A Fire 
at Asliton — The Water Supply — List ot Chief Ofhcers. 

■• Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst, — it's a grand maxim." 

Old Scotch Proverb. 


TTTHE danger of fire has always been very great in 
J— i—L connection with the cotton industry. No sooner 
had the pioneers begun to build their four and five 
storeyed mills than the fact asserted itself. The spinners, 
weavers, and others had to work during the dark hours 
of the mornings and evenings of the winter months by 
the aid of candle light and oil lamps. There is a record 
of the destruction of " The Bastile " b}^ fire in 1804, 
when a man named Joseph Booth was killed. The 
historical " Soot-poke Mill " met a similar fate in May, 
1824, whilst a cotton mill belonging to Thomas Lees, 
in Queen Street, took fire on the 29th Ma}', 1823, ^^^ 
was burned to the ground in twenty minutes, an eye 
witness stating " that crowds of people stood on the 
Bowling Green to view the flames." 

It maybe inferred that the troublous times of 1811-12, 
when mill-burning by rioters and malcontents was 
common, woulii be the era of the establishment of a 
fire brigade. The mill owners were alive to their great 
risks, and covered themselves by insurance, whilst the 
" Phoenix Fire Office," in the 3'ear 18 18, granted a 


sum of money " towards the repair of the Stalybridge 
Engine then in use." Three years later, 1821, the 
engine aforesaid being considered unsatisfactory, a 
subscription hst was opened, by which means a new 
engine was purchased from n, London firm named 
Hopwood and Tilley. Cotton mills were multiplying in 
the town, and on the 19th of June, 1823, the old records 
tell of the addition to the appliances of the Stalvbridge 
Fire Brigade of another engine constructed and supplied 
by the firm before named. 

A distinction by name was now thought necessary ; 
hence, one engine was christened the " Presentation," 
and the other the '' Subscription." It is recorded that 
these fire engines were fitted with " horse shafts," and 
also with rope harness for men, doubtless like the quaint 
gearing used for the drawing of the Rush Carts at 
that period. 

On page 156 of " Butterworth's History of Staly- 
bridge, 1840," we find the following paragraph : " That 
very necessary and beneficial establishment, the Fire 
Engine House, was erected in 1824 by subscription," 
and in the records of the Stalybridge PoHce Com- 
missioners, under the date of 30th July, 1828, there is 
the entry that ; ''An offer having been made by the 
trustees and subscribers of the Fire Engines, Engine 
House, and Lock-up, to be given to the Stalybridge 
Police Commissioners, resolved that this offer be 
accepted, and that the Commissioners undertake to 
pay all debts now owing on the above property." 



Mr. John Cheetham, of Rassbottom Street, Post- 
master, Draper, and Smallware Dealer, was the first 
officiahy appomted "Conductor of fire engines," and the 
body of men who formed the Fire Brigade then estab- 
Hshed comprised the following : — 

Thomas Blakeley. James Rowcliffe. Hugh Ashton. 

John Barker. James Sutchffe. John Chadwick. 

William Roberts. William Bentley. James Burton. 

John Buckley. John Williamson. James Schofield. 

Many quaint old echoes come down to us from the 
days of the " Old Brigade." On one occasion the men 
were busy re-painting the apparatus with " startling 
vermilion," and had the engines in pieces, and whilst 
one man was painting the ladders two others were 
daubing the wheels, and a third party engaged on the 
body of the engine. Suddenly the bell in the turret 
on the engine house rang out its summons, " A fire at 
Ashton." The engines were put together, ladders, 
wheels, wet paint and all, and away they went. When 
the fire was extinguished and the engines had returned, 
it was discovered that one of the wheel- axles had " never 
had the lynch-pin put in." 

Another interesting item gleaned from the old records 
runs as follows : — 

November 2nd, 1832. " That Jacob Waterhouse, 
who supplied a horse for the fire engine at the fire of 
Messrs. Ashton, Newton, and who had his leg broken, 
have £1 given to him for the use of his horse." 


The supply of water in case of emergency was obtained 
from the river, as will be seen by the following resolution 
of 3rd June, 1829 • — 

" That better approaches to the river be provided for 
the supply of water in case of fire, and for other pur- 

Within the memory of many these approaches to the 
river existed, to the number of six or seven in Market 
Street alone. 

About 30 years ago, 1877, the " Old Lock-ups," 
which had been the headquarters of the fire brigade 
from its origination, were discarded, the appliances being 
removed into the " Old Market," or the basement of 
the Town Hall, and there remained housed until placed 
in the present Fire Station, which is erected on the best 
site that for the purpose exists in the town, the fact 
being due to some extent to the influence of one at 
least on the responsible committee, who knows every 
inch of the town, and who from his youth was always 
to the fore at the first clang of the " Old Fire Bell." 

Since the year 1828 the list of the oflicers in charge 
of the fire brigade is as follows : — 

John Cheetham . . 1828 
Edward Garside, 1831-32 
Thomas Blakeley. . 1836 
David Illingworth.. 1852 
William Chadwick.. 1863 

James Hellawell . 

• 1831 

John Gatle}/ 

• 1832 

John Heap 

. 1846 

Thomas Phillips . 

. i860 

John Bates. . 

. 1899 


The foresight of our local authorities of late years, 
shown in the provision of well-designed headquarters 
and thoroughly up-to-date appliances, has been pro- 
ductive of a feeling of security, and a knowledge that 
in the hour of need and danger efficient help will be 


Local Institutions and Movements. 

The Mechanics' Institution — Its First Home —Migration and 
Growth — Projected Institution — Prehminary Meetings and Result 
— The Reahsation. 

" Permanent and valuable auxiliaries to popular instruction." 

Buhver Lytton. 


mHE origination of Mechanics' Institutions is said 
to be the work of Dr. Birkbeck, and it is gratifying 
to know the village of Stalybridge was one of the first 
places in the Kingdom to adopt the idea. On the 7th 
September, 1825, there was established a society which in 
later years, became known as the Stalybridge Mechanics' 
Institution. The name which it bore at its commence- 
ment was " A Society for Mutual Instruction," under 
which modest designation the germ of a Hterary and 
philosophical institution was discoverable. A con- 
siderable stock of scientific apparatus was rapidly 
obtained, and classes for instruction in arithmetic, mathe- 


matics, music, geology were formed. The first home 
of the Society was in the attics, or top storey of some 
cottages nearly opposite the White House Hotel, in 
Shepley Street. In this place lectures and essays were 
given, whilst a " reading room " was established in 
another building in Queen Street or King Street. 
According to Edwin Butterworth's publication of 1841 : 
" The number of members in 1840 was 64, or only one 
in every 300 of the population." The Institution, 
after a period of some years, migrated across the town 
to a room in Bennett Street, from whence, through the 
efforts of Robert Piatt, Esq., another move was made 
to a house in Grosvenor Street, now used as the 
Relieving Offices. Here the Society remained for a 
long time, and doubtless beneath that roof the desire 
for more commodious premises had its inception ; the 
idea was fostered, and the result was as follows : — 

On Tuesday evening, December 20th, i860, a meeting 
was held to promote the scheme, in the Court Room of 
the Stalybridge Town Hall. 

There was not a large assembly. The number present 
included Alderman Robert Hopwood, Councillor Ralph 
Bates, j\Ir. John Ridgway, Mr. John Marsland, Mr. 
Ralph Ashton, Mr. William Storrs, Mr. Samuel Nield, 
Mr. Bamford, Mr. Walter Kenyon, Mr. Thomas Kirkman, 
Mr. James Kirk, Mr. John Quarmby, Mr. William Wood, 
etc., etc. 

Mr. Bamford was voted to the chair, and Mr. Walter 
Kenyon moved the following resolution : — " That the 


important town of Stalybridge, with its numerous 
population, and increasing prosperity, ought to possess 
a more eUgible and commodious building for the purpose 
of a Mechanics' Institution." 

Speeches followed by Councillor Ralph Bates, Mr. 
John Ridgway, Mr. William Storrs, Mr. James Kirk, 
Mr. John Quarmby and Mr. W. Wood. Resolutions 
were proposed and adopted, and at the close of the 
meeting the Chairman announced that Robert Piatt, 
Esq., had promised ;f200, Councillor Ralph Bates £50, 
and Mr. James Kirk, on behalf of the firm he was con- 
nected with, ;fioo. The news was welcomed with great 

On the 25th January, 1861, a deputation consisting 
of Councillor Ralph Bates, Mr. James Kirk and Mr. 
Ralph Ashton, waited upon F. D. P. Astley, Esq., 
Dukinfield Eodge, explained the scheme, and sought 
his aid. Mr. Astley immediately promised a piece of 
land in High Street, and supplemented it with a donation 
of £100. 

On the I2th March, 1861, a meeting was held in the 
Town Hall under the chairmanship of Mr. Ralph Ashton. 
Mr. James Kirk announced that subscriptions had 
already been received and promised amounting to 
£1,734. Councillor Ralph Bates, in a rousing speech, 
proposed the following : — " That this meeting is of 
opinion that the subscriptions already promised justify 
us in taking immediate steps towards the erection of a 
new building, one calculated to meet the wants of this 
thriving and populous borough." 


A further resolution was as follows : — " That the 
following gentlemen form the Building Committee : — 
Robert Piatt, Esq., T. Harrison, Esq., John Leech, 
Esq., Councillor Ralph Bates, Alderman Hopwood, 
Mr. J. Kirk, Mr. J. Marsland, Mr. G. Taylor, Mr. G. 
Gimson, Mr.W.T. Churchill, Mr. J. Taylor, Mr. R. Ashton, 
Mr. J. Ridgway, Mr. J. Bamford, Mr. W. Burnley, Mr. 
W. Bass, and Mr. H. Johnson." 

On the 13th April, 1861, it was announced that the 
Building Committee had accepted the design of Messrs. 
Blackwell and Sons, of Manchester, for the proposed 

The estimate for the erection of the building was 
accepted on the 4th June, 1861, the cost to be £2,950, 
the contractors being Messrs. Greenup and Company, 

The foundation stone was laid on the 17th August, 
1861, by David Harrison, Esq., amid public rejoicings. 
During his speech Mr. Harrison said : "I have lived 
in this town lor sixty-three or sixty-four years, and I 
remember when the spot where I now stand was nothing 
but green fields." 

The building was completed and opened in July, 


(Tbapter 2. 

The Volunteer Movement— The Astley Rifle Corps— The 
First Muster-RoU— Past Officers— The Roll of Honour— Retired 
Commanding Officers 

" Defence not Detiance." 


*^^HE Volunteer Movement in Stalybridge had its 
xz) birth during the period when England was shadow- 
ed by the threatening war cloud of 1859-60. The offer of 
the Government was " That if Volunteers would equip 
themselves with uniform and arms, and supply them- 
selves with mihtary instructors, at their own expense, 
the State would avail itself of their services." 

To the astonishment of the whole world, and the 
surprise of England herself, though the cost was said 
to mean about £S per man, 100,000 men ejirolled them- 
selves as volunteers almost immediately, under the 
motto of " Defence, not Defiance." 

It must in all fairness be said that the local movement 
owed its inception to a number of Dukinfield gentlemen, 
at the head of whom was Francis Dukinfield Palmer 
Astley, Esq. PreHminary meetings were held, and 
finally a pubHc meeting, at which a large number of 
Stalybridge gentlemen unexpectedly presented them- 
selves. Advertisements, placards and hand-bills were 
issued for the purpose of furthering the movement, 


which soon assumed practical shape. Young men were 
invited to join, and those so wilhng were referred for 
further information to : — 

Captain Astley, Deputy Lieut., Dukiniield Lodge. 

Lieut. C. J. Ashton, J. P., Newton House, Newton. 

Ensign Thomas Bazley Hall, Stalybridge. 

Mr. Ralph Bates, J. P., Stalybridge. 

Mr. Charles Woolnough, M.A., Dukinfield. 

Mr. George E. Hyde, Dukinfield. 

Mr. Joseph Adamson, Newton Moor. 

Mr. Alfred Aspland, Hon. Sec, Dukinfield. 

The young men of the district flocked to the cause 
and gave in their names, and though the majority have 
answered " The Last Roll Call," there are still a few of 
" The Old Brigade " left. 


January 3rd, i860, Mr. Astley was sworn in at the 
ofhce of Mr. Hall, Ashton-under-Lyne. The following 
persons were sworn in by Captain De HoUyngworth, at 
the Temperance Hall, Dukinfield, January 6th, i860 : — 


Charles James Ashton. 
Thomas Bazley Hall . . 
Alfred Aspland 
Charles Woolnough. . 
Gracchus Hall 


Charles Andrew 

• 34 


James Walsh 

. 27 


William Tetlow 

• 30 


William Selby 

. 40 


Thomas Boothroyd . 

• 30 



Astley Rifle Corps, First 


Basil Hall . . . . 21 

William Hyde . . 21 

Sydney Hyde . . . . 19 

Herbert Hyde . . 20 

Ralph Bates . . . . 29 

Henry Hyde . . 22 

Robert Aspland . . 18 

Lees Aspland . . 17 

John Buckley Brierley 22 

Percy Brierley . . 19 

Samuel Hill . . . . 21 

Lewis Lees . . • • 44 

Thomas Borsey . . 18 

Joseph Travis . . 24 

G. E. Hyde . . . . 24 

Allen Kenworthy . . 28 

William Hibbert . . 21 

Edward Smith . . 19 

John Witehead . . 31 

John Perrin . . . . 18 

James Bradbury . . 21 

Robert White . . 30 

Benjamin Lowe . . 21 

John Derbyshire . . 40 

Robert Hollingworth 32 

John Shaw . . • . 23 

John Wagstaffe . . 19 

Alfred Fenwick . . 24 

Muster Roll — Continued. 


Thomas Cheetham . . 23 

James Munday . . 22 

David Illingworth . . 26 

Thomas Hodgkinson . . 22 

T. C. W. Gatley . . 25 

James Woolley . . 25 

Joseph Tillon . . 45 

David Taylor . . 25 

John Bridgehouse . . 21 

Walter Cottrell . . 21 

William Ashworth . . 23 

Joe Beaumont . . 19 

Isaac Wheeldon . . 43 

Alfred Johnson . . 28 

Francis Ditchfield . . 38 

T. G. Cunningham . . 18 

John Reece . . 18 

Edward T. Atkinson . 19 

Joseph Adamson . . 18 

Elias Oldfield . . 32 

Samuel Stansfield . . 21 

George Thompson . . 24 

William Andrews . . 40 

Joseph Corbet . . 34 

James Bentley . . 28 

Lewis Warhurst . . 22 

James Clayton . . 21 

Samuel Perrin . . 20 



Astley Rifle Corps 


Muster Roll— Continued. 



Alexander Robinson. 


Nathaniel Howard . 

• 25 

Henry Band 


John Longley 

• 19 

Crossland Cooke 


Thomas Shaw 

• 19 

William Cooke 


William Singleton 

• 19 

Edward Chadwick . 


John Goddard 

• 19 

Albert Lowe 


Wright — .. 

• 17 

Joseph Higginbottom 

. 18 

James Barlow 

• 19 

Josiah Byrom 


John — 

. 18 

William Byrom 


John H. Schofield . 

. 18 

Henry Bridgehouse . 


James Cooke . . 

. 22 

John Goddard 


Henry Bottomley 

• 17 

Alfred Hollingworth 


George Gimson 

Frank Byrom 

John Heap 


John Marlor 



George Byrom 


The self sacrifice and enthusiasm of the local pioneers 
of the Volunteer Movement undoubtedly laid the 
foundation from, w^hence arose the patriotic spirit which 
bore fruit in the hour of need. In the dark days of 1899, 
when England had to face the inevitable struggle in 
South Africa, and friends were none too many, from no 
town in the Kingdom when the supreme moment 
arrived was the response more firm than from Staly- 
bridge. A fitting tribute adorns the wall of the large 
Drill Hall, at Stalybridge, inscribed as follows : — 










Lieut. J. Bates. 
Cr. Sgt.J. McConnell. 
Sgt. W. Lees. 
Cpl. J. Giblin. 
Cpl. H. Hodgkinson. 
Pte. A. M. Alexander. Pte. J. Hill. 
,, R. Bowers. ,, G. Wadsworth. 

,, B. Grimshaw. 


Cpl. T. Hilton. Pte. L. Byrne. Pte. J. O'Neil. 

Pte. T. Batty. „ J. Cox. „ B. O'Neil. 

,, J. Brown. ,, T.Davenport. Bug.J.Cheetham. 

„ H. Buckley. „ H. Hilton. 


Capt. J.Bates. Pte. H. Hodgkinson. 
Sgt. J.T. W.Dayton. „ S. Holliday. 
G. Holt. „ J. Howard. 

L.-Sgt.W. Shires. „ J. Leech. 



Roll of Honour, 17th Feb. 

Cpl. W. Whitehead. 
L.-Cpl. E. Bradbury. 

S. Roebuck. 
Pte. H. Addy. 

G. Andrews. 

G. Austerberry. 

J. Barrett. 

R. Bowers. 

J. Bray. 

D. Brayshaw. 

R. Carr. 

W. Carr. 

H. Chadwick. 

R. Crossland. 

D. Davies. 

H. Dooley. 

A. Eastwood. 

W. Garlick. 

J. H. Hall. 

A. Hardwick. 

J. Harrop. 

G. Harrop. 

W. Hartley. 

W. Hilton. 

J. Hobson. 

1902, toAus^. 1902-Continued. 

A. Lowe. 
F. Lynham. 
A. Mather. 
J. Moorhouse. 
C. Norton. 
F. O'Connor. 
J. Pailthorpe. 

C. Robinson. 
W. T. Royle. 
W. Schofield. 
R. Schofield. 
T. Schofield. 
J. Shaw. 
T. Sidebottom. 
W. Skitt. 
W. Slack. 
F. Smith. 
J. Stansfield. 
J. H. Swift. 
J. H. Swindells. 

D. Taylor. 
J. Tuson. 
A. Whitehead. 
J. Winterbottom. 






The following past Officers of the vStalybridge 
Detachment of the 4th V.B. Cheshire Regiment have, 
at this date (1907), answered the " Last Roll Call" : — 

Year of First Commission 
and Rank then held. 

F. D. P. Astley, 

G. E. Adshead, 
C. J. Ashton, 
A. Aspland, 
Ralph Bates, 
H. Bibby, 
Canon R. H. Brow 
E. Chamberlayne, 
I. Knott Clayton, 
George Gimson, 
James Greaves, 
T. B. Hall, 
Basil Hall, 

W. F. Hopwood, 
R. Hopwood, 
Allen Harrison, 
G. E. Hyde, 
Reuben Lees, 
George Taylor, 
C. Woolnough, 

Capt. i860 

Lieut. 1862 

Lieut, i860 
Hon. Surg, i860 

Lieut, i860 

Sub. -Lieut. 1874 

n, Actg.Chapl. 1884 Actg.Chapl. 1887 

Surg. Lieut. i8go Surg. Lieut. iSgi 

Year ot resignation 
and Rank then held. 

Lieut. Col. 1868 

Lieut. 1863 

Lieut. Col. 1869 

Hon. Surg. 1880 

Captain, 1863 

Captain, 1884 

Ensign, 1868 
Ensign, 1863 
Ensign, 1871 
Ensign, i860 
Ensign, 1861 

Captain, 1873 
Captain, 1873 
Captain, 1878 
Captain, 1862 
Captain, 1864 

Actg. Surg. 1884 Surg.-Lieut. 1892 
Hon. Surg. 1864 Surg.Major,v.D 1883 

Ensign, 1872 
Ensign, 1861 
Ensign, 1869 
Ensign, 1862 
Captain i860 

Lieut. 1878 

Lieut. 1863 

Captain, 1877 

Captain, 1874 

Captain, 1862 


Total Service 

Major and Hon. Lieut.Col. A. Sidebottom,v.D. 1872-1894 
Capt. and Hon. Major J. Schofield, v.d. 1874-1896 
Lieut. Col. and Hon. Col. G. Pearson, v.d. 187S-1904 


(Tbapter 3. 

The Stalybridge Old Band — The Stalybridge Ancient Shep- 
herds Band— The Stalybridge Harmonic Society— The Stalybridge 
Boro. Band. 

" The man that hath no music in himself, and is not moved with concord of 
sv/eet sounds is fit for treason, stratagems and spoils." 



^^T'BOUT the year 1809-10, a number of working 
^t 1 t lads formed a " Musical Band," and having 
obtained permission, held meetings and rehearsals in a 
cellar behind the " Golden Fleece." The contribution of 
the members was "threepence per week," and the founder 
of the society is recorded as being Thomas Avison, who 
was then 14 years of age. After a year or two the band, 
having in the meantime obtained several instruments, 
collapsed, but was re-organised in 18 12, when the 
members agreed to pay " 5s. down and two shillings 
a week, until they had a good band." The first turn-out 
of the young musicians was on the Monday before Easter 
Sunday, 1814 ; the players were six in number, the 
instruments being as follows : " Two Clarinets, two 
Flutes, one Bassoon, and a big Drum." Armed with 
a manuscript book which "cost threepence," and on the 
front page of which a very elaborate appeal for support 
had been written, the band sallied forth, and proceeding 
to the residence of Robert Lees, Esq., Dukinfield, 
received their first subscription, viz., " a one pound 


note ; " Mr. Astley, of Dukinfield Lodge, gave them 
£2 2s., and up to the time of his death remained a good 
supporter ; other gentlemen subscribed, and the amount 
collected was £2^. An additional £12 was obtained in 
various ways, encouraging the musicians to further 
efforts. The band was now firmly established, new 
instruments were purchased, and the playing members 
were as follows : J. HoUingworth, J. Cottrell, J. Harrison, 
A. Barker, S. Walker, J. Harrison, J. France, P. 
Greenwood, A. Lawton, S. Cottrell, H. Nield, J. Booth, 
T. Avison, J. Lawton, T. France, W. Cottrell, J. 
Buckley, G. Piatt, and J. Sidebottom. 

Engagements followed, and the Stalybridge Band 
filled many appointments from time to time, perhaps 
the most notable being on the occasion of Henry Hunt's 
entry into Manchester on the day of the meeting 
which terminated in the historical " Peterloo Massacre " 
in 1819. 

The Stalybridge Old Band has a record such as few 
similar societies can boast, for at one period of its career 
it was absolutely second to none in the Kingdom. Con- 
test after contest saw them victorious, and their name 
and fame were known wherever the English language 
was spoken. Between the years 1859 and 1882 the 
total amount won by the band was £1,449 S^-. of which 
the years 1874-5-6-7 yielded m^ 14s. For many 
years it was the custom to hold grand concerts, when 
some of the finest singers and musicians of the day were 
engaged, regardless of expense. The abilities and 
traditions of the society are weU known, and with a 



repetition of the support which was given to them in times 
past, the latent talent of its members would assuredly 
and undoubtedly assert itself and make the towns- 
people once more proud of the Stalybridge Old Band. 


The Stalybridge Ancient Shepherds' Reed Band was 
established in the year 1832, and was composed of 
working men w^ho were members of the Ancient Order 
of Shepherds Friendly Society. 

The following Lodges which then formed the '' Staly- 
bridge District " each subscribed a certain sum of money 
towards the cost of the instruments required, viz. : 
"The Noah's Ark," "Good Intent," "Free WiU," 
"Loyal Abel No. i," "Piety No. 140," "Loyal Con- 
fidence No. 46," " Industry No. 30," " Triumphant 
No. 98," " Providence No. 47," " Loyal Abraham 
No. 4," " Loyal Laban, Stayley." On the 25th July, 
1832, a selection committee was deputed to go to Man- 
chester, when they purchased from Mr. Cowlan, a 
dealer in musical instruments, the following : " Four 
Clarinets, three Flutes, one Key Bugle, two Slide 
Horns, one Trumpet, two Trombones, and one Bass 
Horn." The cost of the instruments was £36, of which 
£22 was then paid, it being agreed that the remainder 
should be paid by instalments of /2 per month. Every 
player, upon joining the band, pledged himself to pay 
the sum of £3 los., and when he had done so he was 


accredited a '"' full member." Mr. William Woolley, 
who was one of the prime movers in the formation of 
the Band, was originally a '' Celloist," and was also a 
Clarionet player in the Old Band, which was at one time 
a Reed Band. Mr. Woolley was selected as leader, 
and occupied that position for nearly thirty years. 

The original members of the Band were the following : 
Thomas Avison, Robert Lawton, James Lawton, John 
Nield, James Booth, James Crosby, Wilham Band, 
Robert Winterbottom, William Woolley, Robert 
Etchells, Samuel Nield, Walter Garside, Edward Woolley, 
James Nield, Hugh Broadbent, and James Swindells. 
A quaint entry in one of the Band's records is as 
follows : — 

" Moved and seconded that any player calling Avison 
names shall be fined sixpence, and if he doesn't pay, 
that the same be stopped out of his contributions." 


The origination of this society was the result of a 
dispute at the King Street Chapel, between the choir 
and minister, through which the principal part of the 
choir left that place of worship, but, being desirous of 
keeping up the standard of their abilities as musicians, 
they agreed to practise at each other's houses until 
such times as they might be able to obtain a settled 
abode. These homely rehearsals went on, until the 
members gained confidence, and it was decided to form 


a musical society, to which was given the title of " The 
Stalybridge Harmonic Society ; " the date is given as 
July, 1844. As the membership increased, a deputation 
was appointed to wait upon the Rev. T. Floyd, vicar 
of Holy Trinity, who allowed them to practise in the 
Castle Hall Schoolroom, then situated next to the 
" Castle Inn." The society went with the school when 
it migrated to the Foresters' Hall, and again when the 
new Castle Hall schools were erected, at which place 
the rehearsals were held until the Educational Authorities 
required the room for their own use. 

The first members included the following : Samuel 
Garhck, Hugh Piatt, Samuel Ashton, John Goddard, 
Dan Downs, John Downs, W. H. Garlick, John Brad- 
bury, Allen Avison, John Avison, Amanda Lee, Elizabeth 
Garlick, Martha Sunderland, and others. 

The first public performance was given in the Foresters* 
Hall, from which time the society appeared annually. 
As the society grew it became more ambitious, and 
Handel's oratorio of *' Samson " was performed in 
Stalybridge Tow^n Hall, followed successively by 
" Judas Maccabaeus," " Joshua," " Solomon," " The 
Redemption," and " Israel in Egypt." Following these 
productions came Mendelssohn's " Elijah," " St. Paul," 
" Hymn of Praise," and a great number of minor works. 
In later years the society produced a number of operas 
and operettas, viz., " Robin Hood," " Martha," 
" Masaniello," " Olivette," " Rip Van Winkle," etc., 
with full spectacular effects. 


The first musical conductor was Samuel Garlick, 
who held the position until his death, March 22, 1885, 
his successor being Alexander Owen, who was appointed 
in April,i885, resigned March 13, 1892, and was succeeded 
in the following May by the present conductor, Mr. 
John Garlick. 

The following were the chief supporters of the society 
in its early days : Rev. W. W. Hoare, Rev. Thomas 
Floyd, Robert Piatt, Esq., John Cheetham, Esq., Henry 
Bayley, Esq., David Harrison, Esq., Abel Harrison, 
Esq., James Wilkinson, Esq., Dr. Hopwood, and 
Ralph Bates, Esq. 


This Band was founded in March, 1871, and held its 
first meetings and rehearsals at the Moulders' Arms, 
Grasscroft Street, its first secretary being Mr. Dan 

The requisite instruments were subscribed for by 
honorary members, and subsequently purchased from 
Mr. Joseph Higham, Manchester, the first consignment 
being delivered at the headquarters of the band " on 
a wheelbarrow." 

The founder and first conductor was Mr. Alexander 
Owen, who still holds the office, and is deeply interested 
in the welfare of the society. The first playing members 
were as follows : A. Owen, J. A. Schofield, W. Schofield, 
H. Schofield, John Wild, J. Speke, S. Tootill, R. Mellor, 


J. Melior, W. Swift, and W. Barnes. So rapid was the 
growth in efficiency of the players that they took part 
in a contest at Belle Vue, in 1872, and from this time 
forth few amateur bands were more successful in the 
contesting field, for when they had been in existence 
little more than two years, at a contest at Kingston, 
Hyde, they came second to Meltham, gaining a prize 
of /20, and beating the famous Black Dyke Band. 

Some time later at Pemberton they defeated " Besses- 
o'-th'-Barn," and at Lindley, the celebrated " Leeds 
Forge." In October, 1888, at a contest at the Irish 
Exhibition, London, the band won the highest value 
in prizes ever brought to the town, viz., £42 in cash and 
one B Flat Tenor Trombone, value £14 14s. Many of 
the instruments used by the players to-day are the 
trophies of bygone victories, several having been won 
single-handed by Mr. Owen, his first '' prize cornet " 
being a cherished relic. 

For 25 years the Band was known as the 4th C.R.V. 
(Boro' Band). Its founder and conductor wrote several 
special marches for the Band, including " Edith," 
" Silver Moonlight Winds are Blowing," and the "Boro." 


The Aged People's Tea Party— The First Committee, Friends, 
and Supporters — The Foresters' Hall — The Thespian Society of 
1814 — Ridge Hill Lanes Institute. 

" Learn to live well, that thou may'st die so too, 
To live and die is all we have to do." 

Sir John Denham. 


V I f HE origination of this annual festival had its birth 
J ^ I in the minds of a few working men, chiefly Odd- 
fellows connected with the "Widow and Orphans' Fund." 
A committee was formed, subscriptions sought, and 
the response being encouraging, enabled the promoters 
to provide a suitable tea and entertainment for the old 
folk of both sexes who had attained the age of " three 
score years and ten." The committee consisted of the 
following : — 

Henry Higginbottom. George Garside. John Tymms. 
Jonathan Sanderson. Joshua Saxon. John Slack. 
Ben Bright. Jer'h. Walton. Geo. Chappel. 

John Mather. David Cooper. 

Alfred Nield, Chairman. Wilham Ward, Vice-chairman. 
Thomas Hodson, Secretary. Betty Worral, Treasurer. 

The list of subscriptions is still in existence. The sum 
collected was ;f26 is., in sums ranging from is. to £1, 
and there is scarcely a well-known name of the time 


The party was held in the Stalybridge Town Hall, 
on New Year's Day, i860. The Stalybridge Old Band 
and a party of Glee Singers were in attendance. The 
Mayor, Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom, Esq., presided, 
being supported by Alderman Hopwood, Councillor 
Bates, Henry Bayley, Esq., Rev. J. R. Stephens, Mr. 
lowerth Davis, Mr. Abel Swann, Mr. Samuel Hurst 
(the champion of England), etc., etc. 

The guests thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of their 
friends, and mingling music, jest, and speech-making 
together, the first " Old Folks' Tea Party " passed 
pleasantly over, inaugurating the series of annual parties 
which have been continued to the present time. 


About the year 1835, the members of the Foresters' 
Lodges in Stalybridge District, viz. : " Felicity, Justice, 
Forest Oak, Laurel Leaf, St. George, and Decision, 
comprising about 420 persons, decided to erect a 
building to be known as the " Foresters' Hall." A 
building committee was formed, consisting of the 
following persons : — ^J. Faulkner, J. Hampson, John 
Hallsworth, H. Derby, J. Bates, J. Bold, J. Wood, G. 
Chadwick, J. Cowgill, A. Harrop, J. Chadwick, J. Lee, 
R. Howard, W. Ouarmby, J. Bradbury, and J. Green- 
halch. The plans of the building were drawn by John 
Hallsworth. The cost was £2,200, defrayed by the 
contributions of the " Foresters." 


The foundation stone was laid on Monday, July 25th, 
1836, and the proceedings are alluded to as follows : — 

" A procession of the various Orders in the town 
assembled on the New Road to the New Market or Town 
Hall, when they were arranged as follows -.—Three 
gentlemen on horseback, the stone-layer or spokesman, 
the building committee of the Order, the stone getters, 
the stone masons, the joiners. Band, the Independent 
Order of Oddfellows, the Ancient Druids, the Modern 
Druids, Band, the Loyal Ancient Shepherds, the 
Gardeners and the Foresters." 

The building was completed and opened with cere- 
mony. During the Christmas and New Year Holidays, 
1848-9, a memorable entertainment and exhibition of 
oil paintings, curiosities, etc., was held at this place. 
At one period there was a large organ, a splendid library, 
and night schools in connection with the Order at this 

The following gleaning is of interest to the patrons 
of the drama: — There was one society in those days 
which deserves a passing notice. It had for its object 
the improvement of the elocutionary powers of its 
members. Known locally as " The Thespian Society," 
it was also denominated " The Spouting Club," and its 
membership comprised about a dozen individuals, 
including the following : — John Lees, William Binns, 
Thomas Kenworthy, John Bramall, Ezra Marsland, 


George Smith, Alfred Cheetham, John Wardle, John 
Taylor, and others. John Lees was the scene painter, 
whilst William Binns was the stage carpenter. The 
society gave periodical public performances in the club 
room of the Angel Inn. The price of admission was 
usually a shilling, and the local gentrj^ patronised the 
entertainments, which were generally of a Shakes- 
perian character. One of the drawbacks of the society 
was that they could never entice the fair sex to join 
them as memxbers, and were thus compelled to engage 
professional ladies from the Manchester theatres. 

When rehearsing a new play for production, it w^as 
the custom of the members to visit Manchester and 
witness a public performance of the same, which meant 
walking to Ashton, boarding the coach, and journeying 
to the theatre, returning to Stalybridge earl}^ next 


This institution was founded about i860, and in the 
early days of 1861 had reached a position which enabled 
its members to pass the following resolution : — ^January 
i6th, 1861. " Moved by Mr. W. Moores and seconded 
by T. Barnes, that Messrs. J. Miller, R. Mills, G. Nuttall, 
J. Duffy and T. Warburton form a deputation to wait 
upon Messrs. D. and T. Harrison, and request as a 
favour the granting of a more commodious place for 
the members to meet in." The title of the society 
became the "Ridge Hill Lane Working Men's Institute, 


Library and Reading Room, established February i6th, 
1861." The first officers were the following: — President, 
T. A. Harrison ; Patron, D, Harrison, Esq. Committee, 
J. Lomas, T. Barnes, W. Moores, J. Duffy, C. Nuttall, 
J. Miller, J. Mitchell, R. Mills, J. Knott, T. James, 
T. Warburton. 

The Institution possesses a museum and library, 
and has also a microscope for the use of its members, 
A very interesting relic hangs upon the walls, 
being the original design for the Jethro Tinker Memorial, 
the working committee of which had its inception and 
held the majority of its meetings in this Institution, 
under the chairmanship of Samuel Hill. 

The Stamford Park Movement — Newspaper Correspondence — 
Preliminary Meetings — Opposition — List of Subscriptions — Opening 
by Lord Stamford — Turnover to the Corporations. 

" There is a volume of associations in the very name." 

Washington Itving. 


V^^HE scheme of a '' Pubhc Park for the District" 
y^J originated on the J2th July, 1855, exactly 
eighteen years before Stamford Park was opened by the 
Earl of Stamford and Warrington. In the "Reporter" of 
that date a leading article deals with the idea, and on 
the 22nd of September following, a writer under the 
nom-de-plume of " Nil Desperandum " requested the 


editor of the " Reporter " ''to persist in his advocacy 
of a pubhc park." 

On the 3rd May, 1856, Mr. H. Roche, of 56, Margaret 
Street, Henry Square, Ashton-under-Lyne, again opened 
the question. On the 7th June, the " Reporter " helped 
the idea by means of its columns. During the ensuing 
week the meeting room of the Young Men's Improve- 
ment Society, in connection with St. Peter's Church, 
Ashton-under-Lyne, was placed at the service of the 
public, and a meeting was held. 

On the i6th June a meeting of working men was 
held in the Ashton-under-Lyne Town Hall, Mr. J. 
Farron in the chair. Speeches and suggestions were 
made, and the meeting was of a most interesting 
character. The idea, however, met with bitter opposi- 
tion, which was parried by a stirring address to the 
people. One paragraph is quoted to show the spirit 
of determination possessed by the promoters. 

"We want a park .... a spot upon God's earth that 
we can call our own ; where our lads may pitch their 
wickets, and our girls hang their swings, and where 
the less nimble may toss the quoit, and roll the bowl, 
without fear of action for trespass." 

Month followed month with suggestions and criticisms 
— ^they trod upon each other's heels. Meetings were 
held, an official committee appointed, and subscription 
books were issued to those desirous of collecting funds 
for the object in view. 

In the " Reporter " for the 15th June, 1857, the 
amount subscribed is published, viz., £2^$ i8s. 8d. 


On the 27th March, 1858, a letter addressed to the 
Editor of the " Reporter," by H. T. Darnton, Esq., 
mentioned the ''Samuel Oldham" bequests, but from 
some cause or other the scheme became dormant ; it 
may be that the impending American War affected it 
After the lapse of many years the idea was again revived 
by H. T. Darnton, Esq. The Highfield Estate was on 
sale, and thought to be a suitable place for a park, 
so Mr. Darnton communicated his idea to Mr. Joseph 
Shawcross, of Stalybridge, and that gentleman ventilated 
the matter amongst his friends and fellow- townsmen. 
The result was that after an interval of about thirteen 
years the scheme was revived, and in June, 1871, we 
find references once more to " The Public Park." 

It was stated that the " Oldham Bequest " was still 
obtainable, that *' £7,000 " was waiting, the additional 
warning being also given, " that a purchase must be 
made before September 5th, 1871." 

On the I2th August, 1871, a local writer took up the 
question, and appealed to " The People of Stalybridge 
to co-operate and hold a public meeting without delay." 

It is said that the " Talbot Inn " was the place 
where a few working men foregathered and discussed 
the matter. 

A chairman, Mr. Harrison, was appointed, and the 
following names submitted as gentlemen fitted to form 
a deputation representing the town in a proposed 
interview with the Earl of Stamford and Warrington : — 
The Mayor, John Hyde, Esq., J. J. Wilkinson, Esq., 
James Kirk, Esq., John Ridgway, Esq., Ralph Bates, 


Esq., Robert Hopwood, Esq., J. F. Cheetham, Esq., 
and Thomas Harrison, Esq. 

On the i6th August, 1871, a deputation representing 
Ashton-under-Lyne, Dukinfield and Stalybridge waited 
upon Lord Stamford at the Old Hall, Ashton-under-Lyne. 
His Lordship received them and listened attentively, 
and in reply undertook to " remit the chief rent on the 
Highfield Estate," and further, " offered a tract of land 
upon very easy terms." 

In conclusion the Earl said: — "Do not think of 
failure by any means ; go on and do what you can, and 
if you do not raise as much money as you could wish — 
see me again." 

Another meeting was held at Stalybridge, this time 
at ''The Angel Inn," at which R. P. Whitworth 
presided. An appeal was made for subscriptions to 
cover preliminary printing expenses, in response to 
which the sum of £^0 was placed before the Chairman 
in a few minutes. 

The next important move was a Public Meeting, 
called " by requisition " in the Town Hall, Stalybridge, 
August 24th, 1871. The Mayor, John Hyde, Esq., 
occupied the chair. Letters were read from J. R. 
Coulthart, Esq., Ralph Bates, Esq., etc. Mr. Benjamin 
Rigby moved a resolution embodying a number of 
suggestions and ideas, which was carried unanimously. 
Mr. James Saville, Mr James France, Mr. Joseph 
Shawcross, Mr. J. Cocker, Mr. George Cheetham, and 
Councillor Burnley were appointed to represent Staly- 
bridge on the Joint Provisional Park Committee. The 



Mayor, John Hyde, Esq., consented to act as their 
Chairman, and Mr. Allen Harrison was appointed 
permanent secretary. Keen opposition manifested 
itself, which only served to bind the promoters more 
firmly together. On the 13th April, 1872, the well- 
wishers and workers for the movement were sent into 
ecstasy by the announcement that " Francis Dukinfield 
Astley, Esq., had requested the Trustees of his estate 
to hand over the sum of ;f2,ooo, as a proof of his sym- 
pathy with the scheme." 

The Executive Committee, therefore, issued the 
following list of subscriptions, which had already been 
promised : — 

Francis Dukinfield Astley, Esq.. 
Henry Thomas Darnton, Esq. 
Thomas Walton Mellor, Esq., M 
William Leech, Esq. 
George Heginbottom, Esq. 
George Mellor, Esq. 
John Chadwick, Esq. 
Rev. Thomas Radley 
Joseph Fletcher, Esq. 

Colonel Mellor 

Nathaniel Buckley, Esq., M.P. 
Ralph Bates, Esq. 
Thomas Heginbottom, Esq. 
B. M. Kenworthy, Esq. . . 
Booth Mason, Esq. 
William Bass, Esq. 




... 2,000 


.P. 250 
























J. J. Wilkinson, Esq. 

Working Men of vStalybridge 
April 20 — 

B. M. Kenworthy, Esq 

Frank Andrew, Esq. 

Jabez Waterhouse, Esq. . . 

Rev. Thomas Eagar 
May II — 

Waterside Mill Company. . . . 50 o o 

June 15— 

MissMellor.. .. .. .. 50 o o 

In July the total sum subscribed amounted to nearly 

On the I2th of July, 1873, the ideal of the promoters 
became a fact. 

'' Stamford Park," the dream of years, was at last a 
reality. Ashton-under-Lj^ne and Stalybridge were, for 
once at least, united. Processions, with bands of music, 
were the order of the day. The Stalybridge Town 
Council met at one o'clock and held a special meeting 
in the Council Chamber, when formal resolutions were 
passed, and the common seal attached to the two 
Illuminated Addresses which had been prepared for 
presentation to Lord Stamford and F. D. Astley, Esq. 

The Mayor, Ralph Bates, Esq., accompanied by the 
Aldermen, Councillors, and Corporation officials, and a 
procession composed of all sections of the community 
proceeded to the Park (joining a similar procession from 
Ashton-under-Lyne) where the memorable ceremony of 


Opening was performed amidst the cheers and acclamations 
of a deUghted multitude, by Lord and Lady Stamford, 
and F. D. Astley, Esq. We quote from a record of the 
time, as follows : — 

" Liberals, Tories, Radicals, and Whigs ; Monarchists 
and Republicans ; Religious Men and Atheists ; all 
forgot their differences and united to make the town 
as gay as possible." 

The day's rejoicings and demonstrations reached their 
last stage in the evening, when a Banquet was held in 
the large Drill Hall at Ashton-under-Lyne. 

Some 500 gentlemen met and dined together, after 
which Lord and Lady Stamford, F. D. Astley, Esq., 
Sir Willoughby Jones, and others joined the assembly, 
and speech-making was the order of the hour. 

A final effort was the monstre Bazaar, which was held 
in the Ashton Drill Hall, the financial result of which 
surprised even the most sanguine of its promoters. 
The magnificent sum of £4,750 was obtained from the 
Bazaar, for the benefit of Stamford Park. 

Amongst those who worked hard in the rank and file 
on the Executive Committee were the following : — 
AUen Harrison, Secretary ; Benjamin Rigby, Joseph 
Shawcross, James Saville, Samuel Cooper, — Hibbert, 
John Heap, James Hill, John Burton, Samuel Shaw, 
T. Bullen, and many others. 

A distinguishing badge worn by the Joint Committee 
was a circular disc made of black morocco leather in- 
scribed in gilt letters with the words : " Stamford Park 
Committee; Ashton, Stalybridge and District." A 



later Joint Committee was composed of the following : — 
George Mellor, Chairman ; Allen Harrison, Secretary ; 
W. H. Waterhouse, B. B. Kenworthy, Ralph Bates, 
H. T. Darnton, Robert Stanley, Mark Fentem, Squire 
Farron, Benjamin Rigby, James France, John Duffy, 
Abel Swann, Edward France, John Kiddy. 

There are only three survivors of the Stalybridge 
section of this Committee to-day — Benjamin Rigby, 
Robert Stanley, J. P., and Mark Fentem, J. P. 

Stamford Park was " taken over " on the 13th July, 
1891, by the Corporations of Stalybridge and Ashton- 
under-Lyne. The extent of the land within its boundaries 
to-day is given as about 63 acres. Originally the greater 
part of the Park was in the Borough of Stalybridge, but 
the addition of the portion known as the "Dingle" almost 
balanced the acreage in the respective boroughs, viz., 
30 acres in Stalybridge, and 33 acres in Ashton-under- 

Considering the close proximity of the numerous 
manufactories and mills, Stamford Park may be fairly 
reckoned as one of the prettiest and most attractive 
public parks in the North of England, and it would have 
been gratifying to those who worked hard for the move- 
ment years ago to have known that their labours for the 
public good had achieved such a grand result. The present 
Joint Committee and the officials are to be complimented 
on their supervision and work, and, although there is 
at present no tribute within the precincts of Stamford 
Park to the memory of its originators and benefactors, 
the time will come when a suitable memorial shall 


reveal the facts to the visitor and enquiring stranger. 
The '' Samuel Oldham Bequest," the exertions of H. T. 
Darnton, Esq., and the munificent gifts of Lord Stam- 
ford and F. D. Astley, Esq., are in themselves worthy 
oi grateful remembrance in marble and gold. 

Chapter 6. 

The Co-operative Movement — Formation of Committee — 
Openinc^ of Stores — Early Struggles — Growth — Present Position. 

" United we stand, divided we fall." 


HE Co-operative Movement as we know it came 
into existence about the year 1844. A number of 
working men in the town of Rochdale formed a society, 
the history of which, under the title of " The Rochdale 
Pioneers," was written by George Jacob Holyoake, Esq. 
The scheme was nick-named " The Weaver's Dream " 
by its opponents, but it has survived all ridicule, and 
has become a recognised institution of the country. 
Fifteen years passed before the idea was adopted in 
Stalybridge, when, in the Spring of 1859, a few working 
men decided to hold a meeting for the purpose of 
endeavouring to form a Co-operative Society. The 
date was fixed, the time appointed, and the eventful 
meeting was held at the house of James Cook in Harrop 
Street, Stalybridge. On the 7th March, 1859, there 


assembled the following persons : Henry Pool, Alex- 
ander Maxwell, Ambrose Jackson, Charles Gaskell, 
Thomas Phillips, Thomas Baxter, John Peacock, Daniel 
Woolley, William Haynes, Joseph Edgar, and Johanan 
Booth. The business of the meeting was the appoint- 
ment of the chairman, Johanan Booth, and a com- 
mittee, as follows : Charles Gaskell, William Haynes, 
Daniel Woolley, Alexander Maxwell and Ambrose 
Jackson. Johanan Booth was appointed treasurer, 
and Thomas Baxter secretary, for the time being. 

It was decided '* that the shares should be £1 each, 
and that no member have less than one share nor more 
than five shares each. That the contributions be 
brought to the house of James Cook every Monday 
fortnight, betwixt the hours of 7 and 9 of the clock. 
That 1,000 handbills be printed for delivery amongst 
the public." 

The first general meeting took place on the 21st March, 
1859, when John France, Johanan Booth, and John 
Bradbury were appointed Trustees, and William Haynes 
and Joseph Woolhouse money stewards for the next 
three months. 

It was also resolved " That any officer being absent 
after 7 o'clock on any meeting night be fined threepence, 
to go to the incidental fund." A regular system of 
meetings was inaugurated, and the membership increased 
rapidly. Suitable premises were sought in which to 
commence business, the shop now occupied by Mr. 
Marsden, plumber. Water Street, being the place 
selected. A " Special General Meeting " and election 


of officers was held on June 23, 1859, at which the 
following members were elected to officiate on the 
" Management Committee : " Joseph Edgar, Jonathan 
Blacker, Joseph Woolhouse, Charles Gaskell, John L. 
Porter, James Hey wood, Daniel Woolley, Thomas Ellis, 
and Joseph Allen ; Johanan Booth, Treasurer ; Thomas 
Baxter, Secretary ; Alexander Maxwell and Joseph 
Allsop, Auditors ; John France, Abel Frederick Wood 
and James Cook, Trustees ; Robert Winterbottom and 
Joseph Bailey, Money Stewards. Arbitrators, Matthew 
Hutchinson, Tom Milburn, Frank Farrow, Robert 
Whitehead and Nathan Pickering. 

Preparations for commencing business started in 
earnest. The outgoing tenant of the premises was paid 
for sundry articles which he wished to leave, and the 
making of shop fixtures, etc., was proceeded with chiefly 
by members of the committee, one of whom proposed 
" that the counters have baywood tops." Large posters 
were printed and distributed announcing the opening 
of the " Stores " to the public, and a shopman was 
advertised for, and appointed. Travellers were invited 
to call, provision merchants and tea men written to 
for samples and wholesale prices, and the Society sent 
its representatives to Manchester to purchase " scales, 
canisters, and other utensils." The " Stores " were 
opened in November, 1859, ^^"^^ ^^^ ^^^^ week's takings 
amounted to the sum of £84. The old records are full 
of quaint minutes and resolutions which, however, 
could be of little interest to the general reader. A very 
interesting memorial in connection with the early days 


of the Society was hung in the " Jubilee Exhibition " 
and was the centre of much notice, being an enlarged 
photograph of the " Committee " for the years 1862-3-4. 
The group was composed of the following well-known 
townsmen, John Hackett, George Rushton, William 
Harrison, John Ridgway, Charles Jones, Matthew 
Hutchinson. Joseph Kinsey, Robert Cobham, Samuel 
Hadfield (Secretary), James Lawton, John Bamford, 
David Stringer and William Roberts. 
, The Society had been in existence for two years when 
the " Dark Hour " of the Cotton Panic arrived, for in 
November, 1862, there were no less than 57,000 people 
receiving relief from the Manchester Central Relief 
Committee, the highest record reached during that 
terrible period. The foregoing facts were unknown to 
whoever wrote the following paragraph for insertion 
in the quarterly report, issued in October, 1862. The 
words were both plucky and prophetic. 

" The Committee are happy that they are enabled 
now to publish a full and correct account of the real 
condition of the Society (which they are convinced has 
never been done before). It may be fairly inferred that 
it has now passed through its infantile diseases, and 
we tlierefore feel confident that it will flourish and pay 
dividends that will satisfy and benefit its members, 
confound and disappoint its enemies, and make certain 
individuals blush and shame that it not only survives, 
but that it actuall}^ prospers after their flagrant attempts 

to overthrow it The Committee are 

sorr3^ that they cannot pay any dividend this time. . ." 


Since its humble beginning the Society has progressed 
and prospered to an extent never anticipated by its 
founders in their wildest hopes. The '' Weaver's 
Dream " has proved itself a substantial reality. From 
a return issued in February, 1907, we extract the 
following items : — 

Number of Members, 3,666 

Dividend paid in 1906, £17,608 

Members' Shares, ^^49,196 

Interest paid to Members, £'2,326 

Persons Employed, 108 

Wages Paid, /!6,332 

Number of Shops and Branches, 20 
Donations to Institutions, etc. : — 

Infirmaries, etc., ;f44 8s. 6d. 

Cotton Growing Association, £10 os. od. 
Stalybridge Technical School, £25 os. od. 
Volunteer Prize Fund, £$ os. od. 

It will be seen by reference to the above figures that 
the Members' Share Claims, commencing in March, 
1859, ^t 3. few shillings, have grown to the presentable 
and substantial sum of nearly £50,000. 


Biographical Sketches. 

(T^apter I. 


Dr. John Whitehead, Physician and Biographer — John 
Bradbury, F. L. S., NaturaHst and Explorer —Jethro Tinker, 
Botanist and Entomologist, our local Linnaeus — Lieutenant John 
Buckley, V.C., one of the defenders of the Delhi Magazine. 

" The period of obscurity is passed." 

Bulwer Lytton. 



"This was one of those men whose voices have gone forth 
to the ends of the earth." 

Washington Irving. 

WOHN WHITEHEAD was born at Stalybridge 
^1 about the year 1740. His parents were of humble 
position, and had left the old Dissenting congregation 
to join the Moravians, about two years before the birth 
of their son. 

John Whitehead was educated in the Moravian 
school at Dukinfield, and received a classical training, 


a privilege which fell to the lot of very few of his class. 
Very early in life he became deeply affected with 
rehgious aspirations, and ultimately became connected 
with the Wesleyan movement. Time passed on, and 
Whitehead met a preacher of Wesley's doctrine, named 
Matthew Mayer, a native of Stockport, who frequently 
came to Stalybridge to conduct open-air services. 

John Whitehead became a sound convert to Methodism 
and graduated into a lay preacher of power and 
influence. He left Stalybridge and went to Bristol, 
where he settled, but the result of his labours was 
financially so small, that, in order to sustain himself, he 
went into business as a linen draper, and shortly after- 
wards married. The young preacher was not successful 
behind the drapery counter, the business venture proving 
a failure, consequently he quitted Bristol and migrated 
to London, where he joined the " Society of Friends." 
Here his marked personality and his abihties speedily 
received recognition ; he became prominent as a speaker, 
and was selected as the conductor of a large boarding- 
house connected with the society at Wandsworth. 

At the age of 39 (September i6th, 1779) he entered 
at Leyden University as a medical student, and graduated 
as M.D. on the 4th of February, 1780. Such were the 
abilities of this man that, within the space of twelve 
months, on the death of John Kooystra, Physician to 
the London Dispensary (19th January, 1781), he was 
appointed his successor. Other distinctions awaited 
him, for on March 25th, 1782, he was admitted a 
Licentiate of the College of Physicians. In 1784 he was 


a candidate for the office of physician to the London 
Hospital, but, although at the election for the post he 
had a majority of votes, he never filled the position. 

He was at this period the medical adviser of John 
and Charles Wesley, who were very much attached to 
him, and endeavoured to win him back to their ranks, 
which they eventually succeeded in doing. Dr. White- 
head was now a powerful preacher, and did great service 
in the pulpit, being heart and soul in the work. He 
would willingly have quitted his profession and practice 
if John Wesley would have ordained him. As the 
medical adviser and attendant of the founder of 
Methodism, Dr. Whitehead spent much time with his 
patient in his last illness, being present by the bedside 
when John Wesley passed, away. Dr. Whitehead did 
himself credit in the preaching of the great divine's 
funeral oration, which was of such eloquence and power 
that it was printed and ran through four editions, 
realising the sum of £200, which Dr. Whitehead handed 
over to the Wesleyan Society. 

Along with two others, Dr. Whitehead was appointed 
by John Wesley as " Literary Executors," it being 
understood that, conjointly, they should write the 
" Life of Wesley." 

Shortly after the decease of John Wesley, at a 
meeting of preachers called for the purpose, it was 
proposed by James Rogers, and agreed to by the other 
executors, that Dr. Whitehead, being the man with 
most leisure, should undertake the task, and receive a 
hundred guineas for it. Accordingly all the documents. 


papers, etc., left by the deceased leader were handed 
over to him, and the work was commenced. Jealousy 
appears to have arisen amongst certain members of 
the Society, and a dispute arose which led to Dr. White- 
head being asked to return the papers entrusted to him. 
This he refused to do, and at a meeting, December gth, 
1791, his name was ordered to be removed from the list 
of preachers. Dr. Whitehead offered to compromise 
with the committee appointed to deal with the matter, 
but they refused, and the dispute went on until it led 
to litigation, which v/as eventually stopped, the Society 
agreeing to pay all costs, which amounted to £2,000. 
Dr. Whitehead completed his task and published his 
book in 1793. Three years later (1796) he returned all 
the documents and papers to the Wesleyan Society, 
and in 1797 he was welcomed back to the old fold, and 
re-instated in the circle. 

His health now began to fail and he retired into 
private life, living for a few years at a house in Fountain 
Court, Old Bethlehem, where he attained the age of 
64 years, and died on the 7th March, 1804. 

For a period of seven days his body " lay in state." 
Some of those who had known him from his youth 
travelled from Stalybridge by coach to witness his 
funeral. His remains were laid in '* Wesley's vault," 
at the City Road Chapel, London, amidst signs of 
regret and respect. He left a widow, children, and 
grand- children. There is no definitely known portrait 
of him with this exception, that in the engraving of 
the picture representing the " Death of John Wesley " 


there is a full-length figure standing by the bedside, 
which is said to be the authentic likeness of Dr. John 
Whitehead, physician and biographer. 



"The Indian knows his place of rest, deep in the cedar's shade." 

Felicia Hemans. 

John Bradbury was born at Souracre Fold, or 
Far Souracre, Stalybridge, about the year 1765. The 
family tombs with their various inscriptions, and 
which are to be seen in the old burial ground of St. 
George's Chapel, Cocker Hill, have been of great service 
to the writer, in verifying many facts not hitherto known 
concerning the Bradburys. 

The family numbered seven persons all told, com- 
prised of the parents, one daughter, and four sons, of 
whom John was the youngest. 

A very interesting account exists of Bradbury's 
early years, his future biographer, fortunately, having 
been his playmate in childhood, his companion in youth, 
and his friend and confidant in maturity. 

Little has been written about Bradbury for nearly 
fifty years, and it is the desire of the writer to brush 
away the cobwebs of gathering obscurity, and retrieve 
from partial oblivion the name and works of our almost 
forgotten and unknown townsman. 

As a little lad he was taught in the school of John 
Taylor, a local genius, who dabbled in mathematics 


and the study of botany, and whose humble academy 
was situated on Cocker Hill. 

The future explorer was remarkably precocious, even 
in his early years, exhibiting great interest in natural 
history and wild-life. The schoolmaster saw and en- 
couraged his pupil's leanings, and occasionally took the 
lad with him on his botanical rambles, whilst Bradbury's 
father bought him a copy of the works of Linnaeus, 
which he studied fervently. 

Leaving school he went into one of the primitive mills, 
but even then he found leisure time sufficient to enable 
him to continue his studies. At the age of eighteen he 
had established a night school at which he taught the 
young men of his acquaintance what he himself had 
learned. He had acquired a microscope and a pair of 
astronomical globes, and by means of these appHances 
distributed, free of charge to his scholars, food for the 
mind and brain. He revelled in the explanation of the 
construction and habits of insects and flowers, and fixed 
in the sides of one of a number of bee-hives which he 
possessed two small panes of glass, so that his pupils 
might see the wonderful honey-makers at their work. 

He contributed articles to the botanical journals of 
that time, and his name and fame soon became well 
known and recognised amongst the eminent scientific 

At the age of twenty- two his writings and discoveries 
were stirring the thoughts of the naturalists in the 
Metropolis, the consequence of which was that Sir Joseph 
Banks wrote to our subject, and as a sequel of the 


correspondence John Bradbury was invited to London, 
where he was presented to many noted gentlemen, in- 
troduced to and admitted a member of the Linnean 

Sir John Parnell, His Grace the Duke of Leinster, Mr. 
Legh of Lyme, and other eminent patrons and devotees 
of the sciences of Botany and Natural History, recognised 
and encouraged the countrj^-bred aspirant. For these 
patrons he did much work in organising and la3'ing out 
their various country seats and parks. He, however, 
does not appear to have been partial to lengthy engage- 
ments, preferring occasional spells of liberty and freedom 
At one period he made a pedestrian tour of Ireland, 
and thereby discovered many new plants, his ambition 
being to add to the store of knowledge already amassed. 

Passing over the middle years of his life, we find that 
in the early part of last century he lived occasionally 
at Manchester, periodically migrating between that 
town and Liverpool. At the latter place he met that 
noble minded man, William Roscoe, Esq., who intro- 
duced him to Mr. Bullock, at that time the head of the 
Liverpool Museum. A Society which had for its 
principles the diffusion of scientific knowledge, and was 
known as the Liverpool Philosophical Society, was at 
this period very active, and it appears John Bradbury 
was appointed corresponding secretary. The patrons 
and supporters of the society included the Earl of Derby 
and Col. Leigh-Phillips, and it would appear that the 
increasing demand for a larger supply of cotton for 
the manufactures in this country had been under 


consideration. The supply had been dependent upon the 
West Indies, and it is presumable that the new Republic 
of the United States, with its vast area unknown and 
unexplored, had attracted the attention of the Liverpool 
Society. Be that as it may, John Bradbury was selected 
and engaged to undertake a hazardous journey of survey 
and exploration through the country known as the 
southern part of the United States of America. 

At this time (1809) Bradbury would be about 43 or 
44 years of age, and is described as being in the prime 
of manhood, swarthy, broad-shouldered, and of medium 
height, amiable, yet stubborn in disposition, temperate 
in his habits, and a most excellent marksman. He was 
fond of music, active on his feet, and determined in his 
methods and opinions. 

Prepared v/ith letters of introduction to the President 
of the United States, James Madison, and also to the 
British Consul at Washington, he left England in the 
spring of 1809, and was met and received by the represen- 
tatives of the American Societies, to v/hom his labours 
had become known. This welcome impressed Bradbury 
very much, and in after years our townsman always 
spoke with feeling and gratefulness of the kindness, the 
hospitality and universal civility which he had ever met 
with at the hands of the American people. 

If the reader would revel in a record of perilous 
adventure, hair-breadth escapes, and exciting yet 
truthful details, let him consult " Travels in the interior 
of America in the years 1809, 1810 and 1811, including 
a description of Upper Louisiana, together with the 


States of Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee, and containing 
remarks and observations useful to persons emigrating 
to those countries. By John Bradbury, F.L.S., 
London, Corresponding Secretary of the Liverpool 
Philosophical Society, and Honorary Member of the 
Literary and Philosophical Societies of New York, United 
States of America." A copy of this book, published 
in 1817, may be seen at the Mechanics' Institution. 

On his return to this country Bradbury was pressed 
to publish his diary and other writings, which he did. 
The years between 18 12 and 18 17 were probably spent 
in writing and publishing his book. The selling of the 
work and subsequent collecting of the money would 
entail much further labour, and to make a long story 
short, the publication of his works ruined John Bradbury; 
the result was that his future became darkened by the 
clouds of adversity. 

There can be no greater grief to a man who honestly 
knows that he has done his duty than to feel that his 
labours are unappreciated. After his manifold work, 
his valuable discoveries, and the devotion of the best 
days of his hfe to the cause of natural research his 
future prospects were obscured and indefinite, and in 
the depth of despair he resolved in his heart, if a chance 
obtained, to quit his native land for ever. 

He little dreamed how soon that chance would present 
itself. Wandering through the streets of Liverpool one 
day, he met by accident with an American sea captain, 
with whom he had formerly been acquainted. His 
friend was astonished at the condition in which he 


•found Bradbury, for the latter had almost reached a 
state of destitution. Explanations having been made, 
the Yankee, to his honour and credit be it said, kindly 
gripped the poor fellow's hand, forthwith offering a 
free passage to America on board his ship for the entire 
Bradbury family. 

Once again the wandering naturalist crossed the 
western ocean, and on his arrival at New York, his 
acquaintances who had known him in brighter days 
welcomed him again with a friendliness which must 
have been gratifying to the heart of the exile. 

Thus, on a foreign strand far away from the old home, 
which to-day honours his name, John Bradbury found 
that respect and recognition which were denied him in 
the land of the brave and the free. 

He ultimately became Curator and Superintendent 
of the Botanical Gardens at St. Louis, where he was 
honoured and respected by the residents of that city. 
His family settled in their new home, and with good 
prospects, Bradbury was now beyond the fear of penury, 
and with undiminished vigour he continued his 
researches and investigations. He was often visited by 
the Indian Chiefs whom he had met in the wilds, and 
with whom he was always on the most friendly terms. 

In the spring of 1825 a strange desire took possession 
of Bradbury to revisit the haunts of the Red Men, and 
he forthwith started from the City of St. Louis for that 
purpose. It may be that the trials of his early years 
had left their mark ; it may be that his life was cut short 
by accident. Be that as it may, the last record of him 

14 . 


states that he is supposed to have died, and been buried 
with great solemnity by the Indians somewhere in the 
valley at the head of the Red River. 

To-day the works of our townsman are being eagerly 
sought for by American agencies, and in a very short 
time the few copies remaining in the district may drift 

In conclusion we find that in the 6oth year of his age 
this truly wonderful man, a noble example and a bene- 
factor to his race, became a martyr to the love of liberty, 
science, and everything that was beautiful and sublime 
in nature. 

We claim for our townsman, John Bradbury, the 
honourable distinction of having been one of the first 
white men to explore, survey, and publish an account 
of the hitherto unknown solitudes, which have since 
furnished the bulk of the cotton used in Lancashire. 



•'The rank is but the guinea's stamp, 
The man's the gowd for a' that." 

Robert Burns. 

Jethro Tinker was born on the 25th September, 
1788, his parents at the time residing in a cottage 
at " North Britain, The Brushes." The farm buildings 
now known as " North Britain Farm " cover the site. 

In his boyhood days he was in service with Mr. 
Gartside, of Thorncliffe Hall, Hollingworth, and 


became a keen botanical student and a naturalist, 
whilst following his vocation as a shepherd on the 
breezy uplands and the heather-clad slopes of our local 
moorlands. There is proof that he was acquainted 
with John Bradbury, who, it is averred, encouraged 
young Tinker in his study of wild life. 

The father of Jethro Tinker was a man of superior 
intelligence, and ultimately migrated from North Britain 
to the village of Mottram, where he combined the 
vocation of hand-loom weaver with that of school- 
master. Young Jethro became a hand-loom weaver 
at the age of i8, but a year or two later, on the intro- 
duction of power-looms into Stalybridge, he came and 
settled in the Vale, which was, with the exception of a 
very short period, henceforth to be his home. 

Jethro Tinker in his prime was a man of exceptionally 
fine physique, and many of the older residents speak 
of " the tall, straight-limbed veteran of eighty." 

From operative weaver he became over-looker and 
manager, and for half-a-century there was no better 
known figure in the town than our subject. In the 
course of his long life he was alternately shopkeeper, 
publican, and latterly a gardener, a vocation for which 
he was admirably fitted. 

For upwards of sixty years he was the leader, teacher, 
and adviser of the botanists and naturalists of this 
district, and attended their periodical gatherings and 
meetings up to the end of his life. In the year 1858 
he was honoured by his friends, and was the recipient 
of a pubhc testimonial. 


From the early years of his youth to the age of four- 
score he allowed no opportunity to pass whereby he 
could add to his collection of specimens, a collection 
which has few equals in this country, and which was 
handed by his executors to the '' Stamford Park 
Museum," where it is now housed. Here the visitor 
may see the life's work of a humble, self-taught man, 
in the form of a remarkable and interesting exhibition 
of local butterflies, moths, shells, etc., etc., which to-day 
are unobtainable. The Herbarium itself contains 
hundreds upon hundreds of specimens of the vegetation 
of the district, with notes in the hand- writing of the 
gifted botanist detailing the date and place where they 
were gathered. Although unnoticed by the multitude, 
the " Jethro Tinker Legacy " is worthy of care and 
preservation, if only for the use of the student and of 

It was the custom of our subject to make long 
pedestrian journeys during the week-ends in order to 
gather some particular species of plant or insect — toil 
and fatigue were unthought of, weather or climatic 
changes unheeded. Thus did this wonderful man pass 
along the roadway of life, gleaning and gathering 
knowledge, not for his own profit alone but for the 
use of his fellow-men. 

A writer of repute, in mentioning Jethro Tinker, said: 
" He had accumulated more information on the different 
objects he had made his special study than perhaps any 
man in his humble sphere of life had done before him." 

As a lecturer on botany he had a peculiar charm 


which fascinated his Hsteners and stimulated their 
interest. He could quote passages from all the 
known authors as readily as if he had their works 
before him. This is the more remarkable considering 
how little he knew of the training and privileges requisite 
to the student and scholar. 

To the very end of his life his memory was undimmed 
and his mental faculties unimpaired. In his latter days 
he resided with his son-in-law, Mr. Worthington, 
Mottram Road, Stalybridge, at whose house, respected 
and full of years, on the loth of March, 1871, the grand 
old warrior doffed his helmet, unbuckled his armour, 
and laid himself down to sleep. 

His remains were borne, escorted by his friends, to 
Mottram Churchyard, where they rest beneath a flat 
stone on the north side of the ancient edifice. Scarcely 
had the dust settled upon his grave ere a movement 
was initiated for the perpetuation of his memory and 
worth. A meeting was held in the Naturalists' Club, 
Ridge Hill Lane, the result of which was the formation 
of a committee and the ultimate erection of the " Tinker 
Memorial " in Stamford Park. The disciples of the 
worthy veteran left no stone unturned in order to raise 
the necessary funds for their laudable object. The 
committee, it should be understood, were chiefly working 
men, yet as a result of their enthusiasm and labours, 
on the i8th of July, 1874, they had the pleasure of 
realising their idea in the completion and unveiling of 
the monument. This was a red-letter day for the 
botanists and naturalists of Stalybridge, Ashton, and 


Dukinlield. Accompanied by two bands of music, the 
fraternity marched in procession to the Park, where 
the ceremony was performed. 

Amongst the local lovers of nature and wild life the 
memory of Jethro Tinker has suffered small loss by the 
lapse of time, for instead of passing into oblivion, it 
stands out to-day undimmed, unsullied, and even 
brighter than ever. His self-sacrifice and his gratuitous 
labours have left behind them a fragrance and a 
sweetness which serve as a stimulant to his disciples, 
and which is creative of a veneration for his name 
which the humble followers in his footsteps will not 
willingly let die. 

It is indeed pleasing to know that whilst a monument 
of stone perpetuates his worth in the open air, the 
trophies of his research may be seen in the Museum 
close by. 


"And this is fame ! For this he fought and bled ! 
See his reward ! No matter ; let him rest. 

Mrs. Miller. 

John Buckley was born about the year 1814, in the 
village of Stalybridge. His parents at the time resided 
in a cottage situated on Cocker Hill. Little is to 
be gleaned about his boyhood, until the period when 
he went to work as a piecer at the cotton mills of 
Messrs. Harrison. At a later stage he worked for 
Messrs. Bayley. 


The approach of manhood created a desire for some- 
thing beyond the narrow Umits of a cotton operative's 
prospects, and, hke others of his class, he eventually 
'' listed for a soldier." He appears to have quitted his 
native town about Christmas or New Year's time, 1832, 
and we learn that he enlisted for the " Bengal Artillery " 
at the depot at Chatham in the January following. 
He sailed with his regiment from Gravesend for India 
on the 20th June, 1832, and arrived safely at his 
destination, proceeding thence to Bengal. Buckley 
belonged to the 2nd Company of the 4th Battalion of 
Artillery, but a year later was transferred to the ist 
BattaUon. Promotion followed, and he was again 
transferred to the 4th Company, 5th Battalion, at 
Benares. On the ist November, 1839, ^e attained the 
rank of sergeant, followed a few months later, May 26th, 
1840, with an appointment as permanent-staff Conductor. 

For a period extending over nearly 17 years he served 
with credit under various Commandants, improving his 
position, and gaining experience. Buckley could speak 
several of the Indian languages like a native. 

The " Bengal Veteran Establishment," with which 
as a soldier of 25 years' Indian service our subject was 
connected, allowed its non-commissioned officers certain 
privileges. Buckley had availed himself thereof, and 
built a bungalow for his wife and family about a mile 
and a quarter outside the City of Delhi. 

Such was the state of affairs on the memorable 
loth May, 1857, when the outbreak of the " Indian 
Mutiny " occurred at Meerut. The rebel forces 


reached Delhi on the following day, and after entering 
the city, demanded the surrender of the magazine and 
arsenal, where they knew that a large supply of ammuni- 
tion and arms was stored. The native portion of the 
magazine garrison deserted and joined the rebels, 
leaving nine individuals to defend the arsenal. For 
hours the besieged heroes bravely defended the place, 
the guns were loaded with a double charge of grape, 
and round after round was poured into the enemy. 

Having exhausted all the available ammunition, and 
unable to descend to the magazine for more, a hurried 
consultation was held, and it was decided that, rather 
than let the rebels obtain possession of the stores and 
arms, the place should be blown up. A train of gun- 
powder was laid to the magazine as a last resource. 
At length it was found that the mutineers had gained 
access to the fort, the signal was given, and in an instant 
a terrific explosion shook Delhi to its foundations. 
Hundreds of the mutineers were buried in the falling 
ruins, the place being veritably " blown to atoms," and 
five out of the nine gallant defenders perishing at the 
post of duty. 

Buckley's escape was a miracle. He plunged into 
the River Jumna, and swam across under a hail of 
bullets, one of which became embedded in his arm. 
No longer a young man, for the quarter of a century 
spent in a torrid climate had left its impression, worn 
out, wounded, and faint from loss of blood, our subject 
gained a place of safety, only to fall senseless amongst 
the sedges on the river's brink. On recovering 


consciousness he found himself a prisoner, along with a 
number of British residents, in the hands of the rebels. 

Buckley now heard from an eye-witness the story of 
the massacre of his wife and family by the mutineers, 
at the very time when he was helping to defend the 
magazine. The gallant soldier broke down and begged 
his captors to end his life, to which request a Sepoy 
officer replied : '' You are too brave a man to die 
like that." 

Buckley escaped from his captors and joined the 
British troops, seeking death continually, volunteering 
repeatedly for the performance of some forlorn hope, 
and risking his life at every opportunity, particularly 
at the battle of Budlee-Ka-Sarai, on the 8th June, 1857, 
and for these services he was promoted to the rank of 
Deputy-Assistant Commissary of Ordnance. 

A severe attack of sunstroke, the third from which 
he had suffered, prostrated him at this time, but he 
gradually recovered and was appointed Provost Marshal 
of the force at Meerut, where it was his duty, during his 
stay, to superintend the executions of 150 rebel 

Signs of returning sickness became apparent, and he 
was summoned before a medical committee and advised 
to avail himself of their recommendation for leave of 
absence. Proceeding to Calcutta, he presented himself 
to the authorities, who granted him two years furlough 
so that he might return to England. He left Calcutta 
in the s.s. Alma on the i8th May, 1858, arriving in this 
country on the 6th July, 1858, and reporting himself 


at the " India House " on the gth. 

On the 31st of July he received a summons from the 
** Horse Guards " to attend at Portsmouth and report 
himself to Major- General Scarlett. Buckley obeyed 
and, on the 2nd of August, 1858, in the presence of the 
whole of the garrison of Portsmouth, paraded on South- 
sea Common, John Buckley, of Stalybridge, together 
with a number of other brave warriors, received from 
the hands of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, the highest 
honour and the most cherished reward a British soldier 
can have pinned upon his breast — .the Victoria Cross, 

Lieutenant Buckley came home to Stalybridge in 
September, 1858, and although he had many friends, 
he was unable to settle and ultimately returned to India, 
where it is supposed he died. 


John Cheetham, Esq. — John Leech, Esq. — Mr. and Mrs. 
Robert Piatt— Ralph Bates, Esq. 

" When a man dies they who survive ask what property he has left behind. 

The Angel who bends over the dying man asks what 

deed he has sent before him." 

The Koran. 


"The mind's the standard of the man." . 


OHN CHEETHAM was the third son of George 

Cheetham, Esq., Cotton Master, of Stalybridge, 

and was born at his father's house in Rassbottom Street 


on the 23rd June, 1802. He was educated at the 
Moravian School at Fah'field, near Manchester. In his 
youth he was connected with Cocker Hih Chapel and 
Sunday School as a scholar and teacher. On attaining 
his majority he was admitted a member of the firm of 
" George Cheetham and Sons." 

A prominent feature in his composition was his 
especial fondness for associating himself with any 
movement which had for its object the betterment and 
mental elevation of his fellow men. He became 
connected with the Albion Chapel at Ashton-under-Lyne, 
and for a term taught a large class of adult scholars in 
the Sunday School, and later he identified himself with 
the Melbourne Street Chapel in this town. 

A keen interest in the social well-being of the working 
classes stimulated to activity the characteristics for 
which he afterwards became noted as a colleague of 
Sir Benjamin Hey wood, Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth, 
and gentlemen of similar stamp. Always in the fore- 
front whenever and wherever the question of educational 
benefit to the masses was concerned, Mr. Cheetham, 
together with Messrs. Robert Piatt, John Leech, Samuel 
Robinson, Henry Johnson, and others, established 
" British Schools " in Stalybridge and Dukinfield. 

In the early days of the Dukinfield Village Library, 
Mr. Cheetham's influence and sympathy did much to 
put that institution on a permanent and solid basis. 

The time came when the political arena claimed his 
services, and for many years John Cheetham shared 
the public platform with such distinguished celebrities 


as Richard Cobden, John Bright, George Wilson, C. P. 
Villiers, and other exponents of the principles and 
programme of the Anti-Corn Law League. As a public 
speaker few men were more welcome to the toiling 
masses than Mr. Cheetham. It is not claimed for him 
that he was gifted as an orator, but there was a distinct 
charm and a true homeliness in his method of delivery 
which appealed to the pubhc ; whilst the plain Lan- 
cashire way in which he put forth his thoughts and 
ideas had always its effect and reward. 

Mr. Cheetham had a fund of sensible anecdotes at 
his command, which stood him in good stead, whilst 
the originality of his platform method soon secured for 
him the notice of the party leaders, who forthwith 
marked him as a suitable man to become a candidate 
for the House of Commons. 

In the year 1847, when about 45 years of age, Mr. 
Cheetham contested Huddersfield, but was unsuccessful. 
The year 1852 saw his unopposed return to Parliament 
as one of the members for South Lancashire, his 
colleague being Sir William Brown. 

South Lancashire at that period meant a district 
embracing the chief centres, including Liverpool, ^Man- 
chester, Oldham, Wigan, Bolton, etc., and was recognised 
as one of the most important constituencies in the 

In the year 1857, Sir William Brown and Mr. Cheetham 
were again returned unopposed. 

At the general election of 1859, Mr. Cheetham was 
defeated, and again in 1861 he was unsuccessful. 


At this period the following reference was made to 
our townsman : — "He has long been recognised as one 
of our foremost men, whose name has always been 
connected with every great public object, not merely 
as a supporter, but as an intelligent and influential 
advocate. His services to commerce, both in and out 
of Parliament, have been numerous and valuable. So 
far as acquaintance with the forms of business and an 
unsullied party reputation may carry a man, the balance 
is strongly in favour of John Cheetham." 

After a lapse of three years, the election of 1864 gave 
Mr. Cheetham the opportunity to re-enter the political 
field, and he was returned unopposed as the member for 
Salford. In July, 1865, he was re-elected, but when 
the Borough of Salford was given a second member of 
Parliament, in 1868, Mr. Cheetham was defeated. 

His personal political platform was of the widest 
possible range. He recognised the rights of all men 
and all classes to civil and religious freedom in the 
fullest sense of the term. His business capacities were 
exceptional and practical. 

Mr. Cheetham in his early years was a member of a 
select Literary Society, which included Mr. Hampson, 
Steward of the Dukinfield Estate, the Rev. William 
Gaskell, Mr. Samuel Robinson, Mr. David Cheetham, 
and others. It was their custom to meet at stated 
periods at each others houses, where they read poems, 
essays, etc., which afterwards appeared in book form 
under the title of " Noctes Dukinfeldianae." For 
several years Mr. Cheetham was President of the Cotton 


Supply Association, for his services in connection with 
which he was honoured by King Victor Emmanuel II 
of Italy, who conferred upon our townsman the high 
distinction of " Cavaliere of The Order of S.S. Maurizio 
and Lazzario." The historic document in connection 
therewith is a treasured relic at Eastwood. 

As a director of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce 
for a period of thirty years, extending from 1850 to 1880, 
he did much important work, and was vice-president of 
that body for the three years ending 1877. 

Mr. Cheetham had large financial interests in the iron 
works known as Bolckow, Vaughan and Co., of Middles- 
borough, and also in the iron and steel works of John 
Brown and Co., Sheffield, being on the directorate of 
both companies. One of the original directors of the 
Stalybridge Gas Co., he was also one of the first directors 
of the Manchester and Liverpool District Bank. 

There was scarcely any organisation in the district 
which had for its object the elevation and welfare of 
the people, which did not benefit by his generosity and 
sympathy. As a magistrate for the sister counties of 
Lancashire and Cheshire, and as a Deputy-Lieutenant 
for the former, Mr. Cheetham did excellent service, as 
the following from Mr. R. Arthur Arnold's " History 
of the Cotton Famine," will testify, the reference being 
in connection with the Bread Riots at Stalybridge 
in 1863 : — ." Mr. Cheetham at Stalybridge had exercised 
an influence as strong as that of a troop of horse." 

John Cheetham, Esq. married in 1831 Emma, the 
daughter of Thomas Reyner, Esq., of Ashton-under-L3'ne. 


Fond of travel, Mr. Cheetham often visited the Con- 
tinent, Switzerland and Italy being his favourite resorts. 

Arrived at the advanced age of 84 years, he passed 
calmly away at his seaside residence, Southport, on the 
17th May, 1886, whence his remains were brought to 
Dukinfield Cemetery, and there interred. 

A memorable tribute to his worth, and a proof of 
the esteem in which he was held by his contemporaries, 
came in the form of a letter to his son, J. F. Cheetham, 
Esq., from one of the greatest and grandest of Lan- 
castrians, the late Rt. Hon. John Bright, who wrote 
as follows :--" Had I been nearer to your residence it 
would have been a duty for me to have been present at 
the funeral on Monday. I should have had satisfaction 
in showing respect to the memory of one whose useful 
and honourable life I had the privilege of observing 
through so many years, and whose friendship I have 
had the privilege of enjoying." 

Although we cannot claim for our locality the honour 
of its having given birth to men of hereditary title and 
rank, yet we may feel with pride, and proclaim with 
truth, that this dear old smoky vale of ours has in times 
past been the cradle, the home, and the training ground 
of some of God's true nobility. 


" Facts are chiels that winna' ding, 
An' downa' be disputed." 

Robert Burns. 

John Leech was the son of John Leech, Cotton 
Master, of Stalybridge, and was born on the 20th 


October, 1802. He married on the 6th June, 1832, 
Jane, daughter of Thomas Ashton, Esq., Cotton Manu- 
facturer, Hyde, Cheshire, and had issue three sons and 
five daughters. His sons were John, his heir ; Ashton, 
who died in infancy ; and Wilham. 

There is little record of the early days of John Leech, 
but it may be assumed that he received a thorough 
training under the vigilant eye of his father, the effect 
of which made itself apparent in his after career, a 
career as a manufacturer and merchant which stands 
out to-day far above that of any of his contemporaries. 

It was the privilege of the author to be closely con- 
nected with the individual who acted as clerk and time- 
keeper during the erection of the famous seven storey 
mill in Grosvenor Street, w^hich was never intended to 
be more than five storeys high, the foundations being 
put in to carry that class of structure. When the fifth 
storey had been completed, Mr. Leech gave orders for 
another to be added, and when that had been done, 
still another. The local manufacturers w^ere astonished, 
and one of them asked Mr. Leech why he had added 
the two extra rooms, to which he immediately replied : 
'' There's no ground rent to pay up there." 

The ancient grave stone, bearing the family crest and 
coat-of-arms of the Leeches — one of the curiosities of 
Lancashire — ^owes its preservation to John Leech, Esq. 
When the footpath through the churchyard of St. 
Michael, Ashton-under-Lyne, was diverted many years 
ago, it was found that the pedestrians walked directly 
over the ancient memorial. Mr. Leech had the stone 


taken up and fixed by means of iron cramps in its 
present position, behind the office of Messrs. Bromley 
and Hyde, Sohcitors, Ashton-unde -Lyne. 

At the time of his father's decease (November 21st, 
1822), John Leech would be a very young man, and in 
1825 we find that an addition had been made to the 
title of the firm, which was then known as '' Leech and 
Vaudrey." How long the firm retained that title we 
have not been able to ascertain, but upon reference to 
the " Directory," of 1848, we find the name of the 
concern is once more " John Leech." 

The now widely-known and successful manufacturer 
bought the lands known to-day as the Gorse Hall 
Estate, whereon he erected the commodious mansion, 
" Gorse Hall." 

The hereditary traits of the founder of the firm 
developed themselves in the son, who, endowed with 
exceptional energy and business capacity, followed 
closely in the footsteps of his sire, and, with tact, 
judgment and foresight, built up a reputation which 
made the firm second to none in the mercantile arena. 

In an age of slow development he saw the future 
advantages that would result from the organising and 
opening up of a regular trade in cotton goods with the 
distant East. The dilatory and irregular system then 
in vogue amongst the ordinary carriers by sea was far 
too slow for John Leech. He saw the necessity for being 
independent, and his shrewd, self-reliant perception 
conceived an idea at once daring and speculative. 
Without delay his project was given shape, and the 



establishment of a shipbuilding yard at Bideford, 
Devonshire, followed. 

A fleet of specially designed sea-going vessels was 
constructed for the purpose of conveying with speed 
and safety the manufactured goods to distant climes, 
from w^hence in return they brought back cargoes of 
cotton, tea, and other marketable products. This 
private fleet of sailing vessels plied regularly between 
this country and the '* East Indies," and it may be 
interesting to know that several of the original models 
of these ships still exist. The venture was successful, 
and an extension of the mills at Stalybridge followed, 
to the benefit of the town and its people. 

Two of John Leech's ships have been traced, the 
particulars of which are as under :^"The Shuttle," 365 
tons, built at Bideford. Master, Cuthbertson. Sailed 
from Liverpool. Ports : Bideford, Liverpool, and 
London, and the "Jane Leech," 871 tons. Master, J. 
Downard. Built at Bideford, 1854. Sailed from 
Liverpool. Between London and India." 

John Leech is well remembered by many of the older 
residents, some of whom declare that in their day and 
generation he was known as " Ready-money Jack." 

In his manner he was practical, unassuming, and 
blunt ; in appearance, homely and smart. Active in 
movement, sharp in speech, with a clean-shaven face, 
sparkling eyes and a mass of dark curly hair, he had 
" Business " written on his personal appearance. In 
height he stood about five feet six inches, in build 
being what is locally known as " thick-set." This 


wonderful man was spoken of with pride by his con- 
temporaries, as " the cutest man on the Manchester 
Royal Exchange," and he undoubtedly created the 
largest mercantile business ever known in this district. 

John Leech died at his residence, Gorse Hall, on the 
23rd of April, 1861, at the age of 60 years, whence a 
few days later his body was borne to the family tomb 
at Dukinfield. 

John Leech, son of John Leech, Esq., of Gorse Hall, 
was born August 5th, 1835. He is well remembered as 
" Young John Leech." In i860 he married Eliza, 
daughter of Henry Ashworth, Esq., of " The Oaks," 
Bolton-le-Moors, and had issue one daughter and two 
sons, viz. : Ethel, who married the Rev. Sir WilHam 
Hyde-Parker, tenth Baronet, of Melford Hall, Suffolk ; 
John Henry, his heir; and Stephen, who now occupies 
a high post in the Diplomatic Service. John Leech, 
junior, died on the 29th October, 1870, and was 
interred at Gee Cross Chapel, Hyde. 

John Henry Leech, of Kippure Park, Co. Wicklow, 
Ireland, F.R.G.S., F.L.S., F.Z.S., son of John Leech, 
junior, died 29th December, 1900. A valuable collection 
of entomological specimens which he had formed has 
been presented to the nation, and is now in the 
British Museum, London. 

William Leech, son of John Leech, senior, of Gorse 
Hall, was born 24th August, 1836, and was married 4th 
March, 1873, to Rosalie, the daughter of Sir Richard 
Ansdell, R.A., of Moy, Inverness. William Leech is 
well remembered by the older inhabitants of Stalybridge. 


He died on the 8th March, 1887, and his remains rest 
in the burial ground at Woking. 


" Drying up a single tear has more of honest fame than 
shedding seas of gore." 

Lord Byron. 

Robert Piatt was the son of George and Sarah Piatt, 
and was born at Stalybridge on the nth November, 
1802. His childhood was spent in the village, but 
his boyhood and youth were passed in the vicinity of 
Chester, in which city he was educated and trained for 
a commercial career. 

In early manhood he was installed as his father's 
confidential clerk and manager at the Bridge Street Mill. 
and being practical, shrewd and thrifty, it was soon 
apparent to George Piatt that the future of the business 
woul(^ be quite safe in the hands of his son Robert. 

On the death of Mr. Piatt, senr., in 1831, the concern 
appears to have passed into the hands of Robert Piatt, 
and it was not long ere the new master launched out 
and extended the business. Quarry Street Mills were 
erected, and extensive alterations and additions were 
made at the Bridge Street Mills. The famous " G. P." 
yarn found ready markets, and as a spinner of " fine 
counts " Robert Piatt, of Stalybridge, became widely 
known in the textile world. Practical in the mill, keen 
as a business man on 'Change, he appears to have 
devoted his whole energy to the supervision of his 
thriving and remunerative concern. 


Mr. Piatt had reached middle life ere he found the 
lady of his choice, in the person of Miss Higgins, the 
eldest daughter of William Higgins, Esq., Machinist, 
of Salford : they were married at the "Old Church," 
Manchester, on the nth September, 1839 ^^^- Piatt 
was then about 37 years of age, whilst his bride was in 
her 2 1st year. 

Mr. and Mrs. Piatt resided for many years in the 
house adjoining the Bridge Street Mill, but on the 
acquisition of the " Woodlands," in conjunction with 
Albion Mills, that residence became their home. In the 
year 1857 ^^^ demolition of the old home was necessary, 
the site being needed for the addition of the new end 
extension, but Mr. Piatt's house is still remembered 
well by many old residents. 

In December of 1857, ^^^ workpeople of Mr. and 
Mrs. Piatt desired to show their respect and gratitude 
to their employers, and a tea party and presentation 
took place at the Foresters' Hall. The gifts were in the 
form of an address, and a walking stick to the master, 
and a silver inkstand for the mistress. In his replj^, 
and whilst thanking his workpeople for their tributes, 
Mr. Piatt made use of the following words : — ■' Whenever 
it shall please God to call me to my fathers, I hope in 
some way to speak to you, and do you good, even from 
the grave. I will take care that after I am gone you 
shall have some token of sympathy and of my regard, 
which will secure for you some gratification and some 
relaxation from your daily life of labour." 

Although a keen, practical man of business, he had, 


unlike the majority of his contemporaries, great taste 
and refinement, and was a noble patron of the fine arts. 
His judgment was shown in his acquisition of a collection 
of oil paintings, water colour drawings, and literary 
treasures, such as will, in all probability, never again 
exist in this district. 

The desire to encourage and elevate the tastes of the 
working classes was evinced in the substantial sympathy 
given by Mr. Piatt to the "Mechanics' Institution," 
at which place he introduced many eminent lecturers 
and scientific celebrities, whose names are now famous 
in the annals of research. 

As a Churchman, his purse and influence were ever 
at the service of any movement which had for its object 
the spiritual welfare and benefit of his fellow worshippers. 
At various periods Mr. Piatt paid the whole of the 
stipends of the Curates at St. Paul's, Stayley, and St. 
John's, Dukinfield. 

The early years spent in the ancient City of Chester 
left an impression which bore fruit in later times, when 
the ineffaceable memories, and a spirit of gratitude for 
the mental benefits received, prompted our townsman 
to make magnificent and princely bequests to the 
venerable Cathedral. 

The records of Owens College, now the Victoria 
University, reveal Mr. Piatt's interest in the furtherance 
of the welfare of its students, and it is perfectly in order 
that the excellent portrait of our subject adorns to-day 
the walls of that institution. 

The munificent gift to this town of '' The Public 


Baths " is the best known, and will keep the memory 
of our benefactor unfaded, whilst the subsequent 
additions, improvements, and endowment are acts of 
further benevolence which speak for themselves. The 
Foundation Stone of this institution was laid on the 
24th October, 1868, and the opening ceremony took 
place on the 7th May, 1870. 

The visitor to the Baths will notice in the entrance 
hall a pair of finely executed marble busts of Mr. and 
Mrs. Piatt. Truly works of art, they are the productions 
of a Lancashire sculptor, John Warrington, Esq., who 
at the time he received the commission for the work 
was studying under a famous Italian master at Rome, 
where the work was completed. 

The cost of the memorials was about £200, the money 
being subscribed in sums varying from £10 to 2s. The 
idea was so popular, that in a very short space of time 
more than the requisite sum was in the treasurer's 
hands. On their arrival at vStalybridge the busts were 
placed in their present position, and on the after- 
noon of Monday, the 6th February, 1871, they were 
unveiled in a quiet and appropriate manner. The 
artist was not present, but was represented by his father, 
who thanked the ladies and gentlemen assembled for 
their appreciation of his son's work. 

A pleasing feature in Mr. Piatt's composition was his 
tendency, when speaking in public, to refer to his early 
days, and their memories in connection with Stalybridge. 
These reminiscences are most valuable to-day, forming 
important and reliable links in the chain of past events, 


by which the searcher is enabled to connect the scattered 
fragments of local histor}/ for future use. The writer 
has had occasion to quote freely from Mr. Piatt's public 

It may not be generally known that a large plot of 
land was purchased from the Dukinfield Estate, in the 
vicinity of Early Bank Wood, it being the intention of 
our benefactor to make a public park. Plans were 
prepared by a local surveyor and designs submitted, 
but through some unexplained cause the idea was 
abandoned, and the land again became the property of 
the " Estate." 

In addition to the " Woodlands," Mr. and Mrs. Piatt 
resided for some time at Dean Water, near Handforth, 
where it was their custom to entertain their workpeople 
annually. " Plas Llanfair, Anglesea," and '' The Friars, 
Beaumaris," were also selected as residences, and finally 
Dunham Hall, Cheshire, became their home. 

Age, with its increasing infirmities, is no respecter of 
persons, and at the venerable age of nearly four score 
years, Mr. Piatt began to show proofs of decline. His 
last illness was of only a few days duration. A love for 
music, which was hereditary in the family, had enticed 
him to attend a grand festival at Chester. Whilst in that 
city on Friday, the 9th of June, 1882, he began to feel 
" out of sorts," and returned to Dunham, where he 
gradually became worse and died on Tuesday, June 
13th, 1882, his last moments on earth being spent in 
peaceful slumber. His remains were brought to his 
native town and interred at St. Paul's Church, Stayley. 


Mrs. Piatt returned to the " Woodlands," where she 
resided for the rest of her life. 

As a proof of the feeling which existed betw^een Mr. 
and Mrs. Piatt and their workpeople, it is thought fit 
to embody in these memorials the following quotations : 

The first, an extract from a speech delivered to his 
employees by Mr. Piatt, in December, 1857, ^'^^^ ^^^^ : 
— " The little kindnesses and pleasures, which, you are 
pleased to say, we have given you from time to time, 
have been given with the greatest satisfaction to my 
wife and to myself, and we are very happy that you have 
been gratified by them." Referring to Mrs. Piatt, he 
continued : "In her you have always had a warm 
friend, ever desirous to promote your good and happiness. 

The Address which you have so kindly presented 

to me will also be a pleasing object to contemplate. It 
will remind me of many pleasant things that have passed 

between you and me In the probable course 

of nature my wife will outlive me, and as she will in one 
way or other have a considerable interest along with 
my successors in the business in which I am now engaged, 
I am sure she will carry out faithfully all my washes 
as regards your best interests and welfare, and, I again 
repeat, that you will always find in her the kindest 
sympathy and friendship ; and I may venture to say, 
further, that when she goes to her last resting place, the 
words of the poet will be truly her epitaph, that, 
" Goodness and she fill up one monument." 

In a letter addressed to the committee representing 
the workpeople on the foregoing occasion, Mrs. Piatt 


wrote :— " Although I am sure, my friends, you require 
no words from me to express the deep sense of gratitude 
which I entertain of your kindness, I yet feel that I 
cannot allow the manifestation of it to pass without 

some acknowledgment Most gladly would I 

have given expression to my feelings upon the occasion 
of our most delightful meeting, but my emotion was 

too great for words I would also say that 

I look upon this beautiful present as a medium, of 
conferring further honour and respect, through me, to 
my husband, and in this light it is doubly grateful to 

me Wishing you all every happiness for time 

and eternity, 

I am 

Your sincere friend, 

Margaret Platt. 
" Woodlands," December, 1857. 

It is indeed no wonder that this high-souled lady 
should become known as " The Queen of Kindness." 

Mrs. Platt survived her husband about six years, and 
died respected and lamented by the people of this 
district on the nth August, 1888. 

The extent of the munificence and generosity of Mr. 
and Mrs. Robert Platt will never be fuUy known. The 
princely legacies to relatives, workpeople and local 
institutions are recorded, but many were the objects 
connected with the safety, happiness, and well-being 
of mankind which received substantial aid, of which we 
know little. By their actions they built for themselves 


in the hearts of the people a memorial which remains 
bright and untarnished. Peace to their ashes. Love 
to their memory and rest to their souls. 
*'To live in the hearts of those they loved is not to die.'* 


" First in war, first in peace, and first in tlie hearts of his countrymen." 

General Lee, 

Few figures will be remembered better by the 
present generation than that of Ralph Bates, Esq. 
A man of exceptional personality, character, and 
determination, he is spoken of in terms of respect 
and reverence by the great majority of his fellow towns- 
men. For a period of over fifty years he was an active 
and valuable member of our local community, and his 
removal by the inevitable and certain hand of death 
left a gap in our midst which can never again be filled. 

Ralph Bates was the son of John and Elizabeth Bates, 
and was born in Water Street, Stalybridge, on the 5th 
of February, 183 1, his parents residing at the time in 
a cottage, now used as a shop, next to Mr. Barratt's, 
saddler. He was the only child, and was reared and 
schooled in the immediate vicinity of his birthplace, 
his education being obtained under the stern and 
practical Robert Smith, at Chapel Street School. 

John Bates died on the ist of September, 185 1, his 
son having just completed his 20th year, and being 
under his father's guidance at the mill, the crisis was a 


very serious one, but as he often said in his later years, 
" I had one of the best mothers in the world." Thus 
Ralph Bates was left to carve his own future, and this 
he did in such a fashion as to leave behind him a name 
which is worth more than riches. 

In his early manhood a trait of musical ability, which 
was hereditary in the family, manifested itself, whilst 
as an athlete he vied with the many well-known sports- 
men of his day. A spirit of mischief and daring often 
made itself apparent, and the numerous anecdotes 
which our townspeople are ever ready to relate may 
have much truth in them. His temperament was 
impulsive, and even abrupt, and it was a common 
thing for gentlemen, when discussing some knotty 
question, to observe : " We could do with Mr. Bates 
here now ; he'd settle it." Whatever else may be said 
of his methods, he was always straight to the point. 

He was very fond of travel and extremely interested 
in church architecture, having visited almost all the 
principal cathedrals and abbeys, not only of this country, 
but also on the Continent of Europe. The reader will 
find full proof of his interest and work in all the great 
questions of his day affecting his native town, in this 
volume, under the heading of the Volunteer Movement, 
Mechanics' Institution, Stamford Park, etc., etc. 

During the dark days of the Cotton Panic, his energy 
was given to the Relief Committee, of which he was 
Secretary, and whilst he was endeavouring to do what 
he thought was best for his suffering fellow townspeople 
a deplorable shadow darkened the picture, and he lost 


the best friend he had in the world — his mother. 

For a period he disappeared from his native town and 
went abroad, visiting North America. His absence was 
felt, and his temporary retirement much regretted by 
his friends. In 1866 Mr. Bates married Miss E. J. 
Whittaker, the youngest daughter of Robert Whittaker, 
Esq., Cotton Master, of Hurst. 

His connection with municipal affairs commenced 
when the first Town Council was formed in 1857, ^I^- 
Bates being one of the original members. Shortly after 
his marriage, he again entered public life, and interested 
himself in local affairs ; he became the leader of his 
political party, which he thoroughly re-organised and led 
for nearly 30 years, during which period and in which 
capacity he played " second fiddle to none." Twice 
(1871 to 1873) he was the Mayor of his native town, 
and entered with all that fire and energy which veritably 
formed part of his composition into all public functions 
connected with his office. A magistrate for Cheshire from 
1869 , and also for Lancashire from 1859, ^^ ^^^ well known 
throughout the former county, whilst as a business man 
there was no better known figure on the Royal Exchange 
at Manchester. He was for many years a member of 
the Manchester and Saltersbrook Turnpike Trust, a 
visiting Justice of H.M. Prisons, a Commissioner for the 
assessment of Income Tax, a Governor of the District 
Infirmary, Mayor of the Manor of Ashton-under-Lyne, 
County Councillor of Cheshire 1888-1890, County Alder- 
man from 1890 to 1894, Director of the original 
Stalybridge Gas Company, Trustee of the old Staly- 


bridge Savings Bank, and a staunch and generous 
supporter of the Church of England. Many and 
difficult were the parts he played in our local annals, 
but in none was he ever a failure ; he may have been 
impetuous, blunt, and hasty, but he had a kindly and 
tender heart, and, above all, a memory for old faces 
and connections which he never allowed to grow rusty. 

During the researches made in connection with this 
memoir it has been a source of pleasure to unearth 
many unrecorded incidents of his large-heartedness 
which must be unknown, even to his own family, but 
which have had a great influence upon the feelings of 
the author. 

Although a keen partisan, and one who would not 
stand at trifles where he had an object for the benefit 
of his side in view, whilst he was dreaded as a political 
adversary and attacked periodically most unmercifully 
by his opponents, he was nevertheless admired and 
sincerely respected by many who had known him from 
his youth, but who, as his old friend T. H. Sidebottom, 
Esq., once wrote, " had the misfortune to differ from him 
in politics." It is a pleasure for the author to record 
the fact that perhaps the keenest of all his opponents, 
when speaking of Mr. Bates in life, used the following 
quotation from " Punch " : — • 

" We've hit him right oft,' and we've hit him right 
hard ; 
But we never denied him the name of ' Trump 
Card/ " 

In harness to the last, he was largely interested in 


several of our local concerns, being chairman of the 
directorate of the Albion Mills at the time of his death-. 
Ralph Bates, Esq., J. P., died at his residence, Acres 
Bank, Stalybridge, on the 21st October, 1903, and at a 
Liberal meeting held on October 27th, a week after his 
death, a lengthy tribute was paid to his worth and 
memory by J. F. Cheetham, Esq., M.P., from which 
we quote as follows :— " He (Mr. Bates) left behind him 
a memory which would ever be fresh and green in that 
community, and an example of noble devotion to the 
public service which younger men would do well to copy." 
A Freeman of his native town, the highest honour it 
could give him, his name is inscribed on the local roll 
of fame. But it is in the hearts of his fellow townsmen, 
who may not be able to testify in practical shape their 
silent admiration and respect, that his memory is most 

From amongst the many gleanings relative to his 
career, the following is selected as typical of his method of 
sympathising with a fellow creature in the hour of need: — 
On the 5th day of July, 1863, the second day after the 
battle of Gettysburg, U.S.A., a Federal soldier who 
had been busy wdth a party burying the dead, was 
walking across the battlefield at sunset when he came 
across an English gentleman who stood viewing the 
scene of carnage and bloodshed. The soldier, a native 
of Oldham, Lancashire, writing to his brother at home, 
uses these words in reference to the incident : "He had 
come to this country on a visit, and he came to the 
battlefield. He said it was the hardest sight that he 


had ever seen. I gave him your address, and he told 
me he would be sure and see you. I had a long inter- 
view with him He paid for my supper and 

gave me a dollar to buy some tobacco with, and it came 

in very useful His name is Mr. Bates, 

and he is a cotton spinner from Stalybridge." 

" Death is the sleep that refreshes the tired workman 
for a new day," and although we know that all that 
w^as mortal of our distinguished townsman lies beneath 
a massive stone in St. Paul's Churchyard, Stayley, we 
feel that his work, energy, and influence are bearing^ 
fruit to-day. 


George Cheetham, Esq. — John Leech, Esq. — John Lees, Esq. — 

Thomas Harrison, Esq.— Joseph Bayley, Esq,— Thomas Mason, 

Esq. — James Wilkinson, Esq. — David Harrison, Esq., J. P. —Abel 

Harrison, Esq., J. P. — William Bayley, Esq. — Henry Bayley, Esq. 

—Albert Hall, Esq., J.P.—Thomas Harrison, Esq., J. P. — Hugh 

Mason, Esq., J. P. —The Kenworthys and the Kinders — The 

Halls— The Mellors— The Orrells— The Wagstaffes— The Vaudreys 

— The Bates' — The Sidebottoms — The Ridgways— The Adsheads — 

The Ouseys. 

" Whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to growux^on 

a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better 

of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, 

than the whole race of politicians put together." 

Dean Swift. 


y^EORGE CHEETHAM, the founder of the local 
Vi/ firm, " George Cheetham and Sons," was born 
about the year 1757. His father, John Cheetham, and 


his grandfather, Wilham Cheetham, were yeomen 
farmers in the vicinity of Newton Moor, where, according 
to a family tradition, " John Cheetham brought from 
Birmingham a strange piece of mechanism which excited 
the curiosity of his neighbours, and which the Squire of 
Dukinfield (Mr. Astley) turned out in his carriage and 
four to see." This machine was a primitive carding 
engine, and the date would be about 1784. 

George Cheetham married Sarah Lees, the sister of 
John Lees, and appears to have come to Staly bridge 
about 1794-95, where, in conjunction with three other 
manufacturers there, was formed the firm known as 
" Lees, Leech, Harrison, and Cheetham." Their 
cotton mill was destroyed by fire in the year 1804, and 
a dissolution of partnership followed, each member of 
the defunct firm commencing business on his own 
account. George Cheetham selected the Cheshire side 
of the river as the site of his premises, known as Castle 
Mill (Caroline Street) and now in the occupation of Mr. 
Lewis Buckley and others. At that time the spot was 
a veritable " paradise," for record says : " Orchards 
of fruit trees and corn fields flourished, with here and 
there a farm." 

The following account, somewhat quaintly worded, 
of George Cheetham, Esq., was written for a Presby- 
terian magazine which existed in this neighbourhood 
at the time of his death — i.e., 1826 : 

" As Mr. Cheetham was denominated the eldest 
spinner in the trade, it necessarily follows that he had 
devoted a considerable period of his life to this business. 



In the infancy of the cotton manufacture he made 
himself acquainted with every operation from which 
it derived its pecuhar advantages. 

" All the improvements in machinery to which it 
owes so much of its success, by him were employed, 
inspected, and applied to their various purposes of 
convenience and utility. 

" Hence, he not only took the lead of the market he 
frequented, but for a considerable period, in high 
numbers, stood quite ahead of the trade. Notwith- 
standing this prominence, and exertions that, never- 
abating, were rewarded with the greatest success, few 
individuals so circumstanced ever conciliated in a greater 
degree the regards of their workmen, or manifested less 
of that superiority of talent or station in society to 
which great wealth so readily lend their assistance. 
In manner he was retiring and unobtrusive ; in con- 
versation seldom taking that lead to which his powers 
were justly entitled, and always readier to attend to 
the remarks of others than forward to surrender his 
own. On all occasions when the interests or local 
advantage of the neighbourhood required it, Mr. 
Cheetham was a willing contributor. If assistance in 
money was required, his subscription was foremost : 
if advice or direction, his talents and his time were 
readily devoted to the public good. As a Trustee of 
the Turnpike Trust, he for a long time actively dis- 
charged the important and responsible duties of that 
situation. His disinterestedness, urgent in promoting 
improvement, had the entire approbation of those 


with whom he acted, and it was quite a gratification to 
be associated with him in such undertakings. 

" As a relaxation to other pursuits, he had for several 
years past paid much attention to an upland estate, 
which by draining and top-dressing with bone manure, 
of which he w^as a great advocate, had become un- 
commonly productive. Land that in point of fertility 
had little higher pretension than the adjoining common, 
by his management became one of the richest pastures 
in the district. This was an object that divided his 
latest attention, he having visited the farm not more 
than a \\^eek previous to his decease. In the archi- 
tecture of the neighbourhood, nameh\ that of cotton 
factories and their appropriate appendages, his judg- 
ment and experience had a decided preponderance. 
A few years ago he took the direction of some important 
alterations in the enlargement of the chapel to which he 
bdonged, and of which he had lived to become the 
father. The week previous to his sickness he gave 
directions for the construction of a family vault, unaware 
at the time that he would so soon become its tenant." 

Standing upon Water Street Bridge, and looking at 
the pile of buildings on the Cheshire side of the river, 
it is easy to perceive how Mr. Cheetham extended his 
mills as his trade increased. His speciality was the 
spinning of yarns for the manufacture of hosiery, and 
his goods found ready customers in the Nottingham 
markets. The Bankwood Mills were built for cotton 
spinning and weaving. 

George Cheetham built the substantial house formerly 


used as the Manchester and County Bank, at the corner 
of King Street and Market Street, at a period when 
nothing intervened between the site and the river's 
edge, save pasture land and fohage. The firm of George 
Cheetham and Sons consisted of the founder and his 
three sons, David, John, and George. 

For the interest which Mr. Cheetham took in his 
upland farms and agriculture generally, he was the 
recipient of a silver cup, suitably inscribed, from Mr. 
Astley, of Dukinfield Lodge, and also gained a prize 
offered by a Manchester society established for the 
promotion and encouragement of farming. 

George Cheetham died at his residence, Rassbottom 
Street, Stalybridge, on the 17th April, 1826, aged 69 
years, and was interred at the Old Presbyterian Chapel, 


The " Leechs," of Gorse Hall, belong to one of 
the oldest families in this district, and they claim 
descent from the Leechs of Chatsworth, in the County 
of Derbyshire. A section of the family migrated into 
this locality more than three centuries ago, and in 
support of this we find numerous memorials and proofs 
of their service and quality. 

During the days of " The Cavaliers and Roundheads " 
the Leechs were well known in this district as physicians 
and yeomen. Their ancient crest and coat-of-arms is 
sculptured on the tombstones and memorials bearing 


their names within the precincts of St. Michael's Church- 
yard, Ashton-under-Lyne, 

One branch of the family, on the rise of the 
" Dissenters," appear to have attached themselves to 
the Old Chapel, Dukinfield, where they worshipped for 
a long period, and where the graves of the Leechs, of 
Gorse Hah, may be seen. 

The founder of the firm of " John Leech " and one 
of the pioneers of the cotton industry in this district, 
our subject was the son of John Leech, of "The Croft," 
Dukinfield, and was born in 1755. In the year 1801 he 
married Elizabeth, daughter of John Turner, of Ashton- 
under-Lyne, and widow of Samuel Bates, by whom he 
had issue three children, viz. : John, his heir ; William, 
who died young ; and Elizabeth, born 1806, who after- 
wards became the wife of John Ashton, son of James 
Ashton, of Newton Moor. 

About the year 1794-95 a number of men entered 
into partnership, and erected what we may presume 
was the first typical cotton mill in the Vale. 

Shortly after the commencement of last century 
John Leech left this concern, and crossing to the 
Dukinfield side of the river, purchased land from Mr. 
Astley, and forthwith erected a mill for himself in close 
proximity to the canal, which had just been completed. 

It is believed that he even made a great proportion 
of his own machinery, and it is well-known that he could 
card, spin, and weave, as indeed most of the pioneers 
could. The " Hand-loom " of '' Th' owd Mestur " has 


been often described to the writer by one who remem- 
bered it well. 

At the period mentioned there existed very few 
cottages on the Cheshire side of the river, and as the 
concern grew and more hands were required, John Leech 
built a great number of houses for his workpeople. A 
long row of these dwellings lined the south side of 
Grosvenor Street, extending from Leech Street to 
Mr. Leech's own residence, which stood back some 
little distance from the road, and upon the site of which 
the large weaving shed is erected. 

About the year 1818, Mr. Leech put down a gas- 
making plant for his own use, and also for the supply 
of gas to other mill owners. 

He used the canal as a means of transit for his manu- 
factured goods, which were loaded into the boats and 
transported to Manchester, Liverpool and elsewhere, 
and lived to see the business he had founded a 
flourishing concern, dying on the 21st November, 
1822, at the age of 68 years. 

John Lees, the founder of the firm of John 
Lees and Sons, was a native of Newton ^loor, and 
was born about 1762. He married Ann Harrison, the 
sister of Thomas Harrison, and resided at the Old 
Castle Hall. A quaint description of his personal 
appearance says : "He resembled a village clergyman 
in manner and dress, and w^as very methodical and 
punctual in his habits. In his younger days he had 


been noted as a pedestrian and athlete." John Lees 
died at Castle Hall, August 24th, 1824, aged 61 years, 
and was interred at Dukinfield Old Chapel. The 
following is a portion of a memoir which appeared in 
a magazine at the time of his death. 

" Early in his life, in the very infancy of the cotton 
business, he (Mr. Lees) became a spinner, and with an 
ardour peculiar to his disposition and a strong discern- 
ment of what machinery rendered practicable, he was 
one of the foremost to avail himself of its advantages. 
He had the good fortune to connect himself with three 
other partners, ah of whom became exceedingly 
successful in the trade, and to whom altogether the 
village of Stalybridge owes the establishment of its 
wealth and prosperity. Having married when young, 
the stimulus of an increasing family urged him to the 
nicest calculations in the economy of his time, and the 
regulations he introduced in this respect amongst a 
very numerous class of his workmen have been attended 
with the best effects, both to themselves and to their 
employers. As a master he was strict in discipline, 
requiring regular attention and uniform obedience to 
the orders he prescribed, but it ought not to be omitted 
that when Sir Robert Peel's Bill for limiting the hours 
of labour in cotton factories became law, it had nothing 
to redress for those under his control. With such a 
knowledge of his business, derived from its first principles 
enlarged by every new improvement with which that 
business had been connected, the accumulation of a 
large property ceases to be a matter of surprise. . . . 


With a mind so constituted, and talents kept bright 
by action, and which continued so well, it will be 
naturally inferred that he was a valuable companion. 
His table was ever one of the most hospitable, and 
himself never so happy as in the company of his friends 
when he could get a company of them to surround him." 


Thomas Harrison was the son of William Harri- 
son, of High Ash, Audenshaw, who was killed by an 
accident when driving. His sister, Ann Harrison, married 
John Lees, of Stalybridge. George Cheetham married 
a sister of John Lees, and Thomas Harrison married 
another sister. These three were the " Harrison, Lees 
and Cheetham " who, with John Leech commenced 
cotton manufacture at Stalybridge about the year 1796. 
The home of Thomas Harrison was situated almost in 
the centre of the village, the site being now occupied by 
the *' King's Arms Inn." Mr. Harrison afterwards built 
Thompson Cross House, which was at that period one 
of the finest modern mansions in the district. The firm 
known as Thomas Harrison and Sons consisted of Mr. 
Harrison as the head, and his four sons, William, David, 
Abel, and Allen. Thomas Harrison died at Thompson 
Cross, September 6th, 1820, aged 68. William Harrison 
married his cousin Amy, the daughter of George 
Cheetham, and sister of John Cheetham, and built 
West Hill, Stalybridge, where he died November loth, 
1853, aged 64. 

Thomas Harrison, William Harrison, David Harrison, 


and Abel Harrison, are all interred at the Old Chapel, 
Dukintield, where their tombs may be seen. 


Joseph Bay ley, the founder of the well-kncwn 
local firm, was born about the year 1772. He was 
in partnership with others in the latter part of the 
eighteenth century, commencing business and erecting 
a mill of his own about 1804. He built the substantial 
residence known as " Hyde's House." 

He is described as having been a finely built and 
handsome man, having the love of field sports 
strongly marked in his character. Noted as a daring 
horseman throughout the countryside, he was the 
companion of the famous Squire Astley of that day, 
and there are in existence accounts of his famous horse 
" Burgy," and the Squire's " General." There was at 
that time a favourite " jump " in the neighbourhood 
of Hollingworth Hall which would have scared the 
boldest riders of the present generation, but which was 
thought little of by Mr. Bayley and his friend. Like 
most of the pioneers in the cotton trade, Mr. Bayley 
was a practical man, and whilst superintending some 
work in his mill met with an accident which proved fatal 
in a very short time. He died on the 13th April, 1814, 
at the early age of 42. He left a widow and a family, 
his four sons being Abel, William, Henry, and Charles. 

Thomas Mason, Esq., of Audenshaw Hall, one 


of the largest cotton spinners of his time, was a 
native of Stalybridge, having been born in a cottage 
which stood at the corner of Spring Street and 
Rassbottom Street, about the year 1782. His father, 
Henry Mason, was a joiner, a native of Stoney Middleton, 
Derbyshire, who came to Stalybridge seeking employ- 
ment at the time when the first St. George's Chmxh 
was being erected. He was successful in obtaining 
work, and settled in the village, where he married, and 
in the course of time became the father of two children, 
a boy and a girl, the eldest of whom, Thomas Mason, is 
our subject. Henry Mason died in 1784, and was interred 
in the graveyard at Cocker Hill, where a stone indicates 
the exact spot. Thomas Mason was put to work in the 
cotton mill at the tender age of eight years, the hours 
of labour at that time being fourteen hours a day, 
and from little-piecer he graduated to card-room hand, 
hand-spinner, and overlooker. Mr. Mason married a 
widow named Mrs. Woolley, who at the time kept a 
grocer's shop in Rassbottom Street, and in the directory 
for 1818 we find the name of "Thomas Mason, shop- 
keeper." Shortly after this period, it is certain that Mr. 
Mason, in conjunction with John Booth and Edward 
Hilton commenced business on their own account at a 
mill in Currier Lane, which stood upon the site now 
covered by the Parish Church Mission School, and at 
which place Thomas Mason worked himself as carder, 
clerk and salesman. The firm at the time possessed 
" two or three pairs of jennies." A dissolution of 
the partnership took place, Messrs. Booth and Hilton 


returning to Stalybridge, Mr. Mason going forward to 
Ashton, where he estabhshed the concern which has 
grown to such vast dimensions. 

As a child, youth, and young man he was closely 
connected with the Chapel Street School, Stalybridge, 
and as a scholar, teacher and trustee his name is in- 
scribed in the records of that institution. In his later 
years it was his custom, like many other of our local 
celebrities, to refer to his early days, and some of these 
utterances have been of great use. Speaking at a large 
gathering in the district, he dealt with the credit due 
to men who had risen from obscurity by their own merit, 
and in encouraging the young men present, he said : — 
" Why, the man who used to spin on the next jennies 
to me has become exceedingly wealthy ; he has been 
the Mayor of Manchester, and occupied other positions 
of importance, and is now worth half a milhon of money." 
Thomas IMason, Esq., died at his residence, Audenshaw 
Hall, on the 17th April, 1868, at the advanced age of 
86 years. His remains were interred at St. Peter's 
Church, Ashton-under-Lyne, within sight of the bronze 
statue erected to his youngest son. 

James Wilkinson was born about the year 1790 
at a small farmstead known as Honey Home, in 
the Parish of Cliviger, Lancashire, situated about 
three and a half miles from Burnley. He came to 
Stalybridge in the year 1803 as a youth, and settled 
in the village. 


At this period there existed a firm of machinists known 
as " Hazeldine and Edge," whose workshop was located 
in " Owd Joe Heap's garret," really the top storey of 
the building now known as the " White House Hotel." 

James Wilkinson is described at this time as a short, 
quaint, shrew^d youth, known amongst his workmates 
and associates, as " the old man.' 

He obtained a situation with Messrs. Hazeldine and 
Edge, and graduated from apprentice to journeyman 
in their employ. Thrifty and saving, he was never slow 
to improve the opportunity of adding to his small income, 
and by the time he neared manhood's estate, it was 
known to at least one or two of his shopmates that 
" little Jimmy wurna beawt brass." There comes down 
to us the following story in connection with this period. 

During the days of the Luddites, or Machine Breakers, 
about the year 1810-11, the local manufacturers began 
to be chary about ordering new machinery, and in 
consequence the machinists of those days who were not 
men of much capital, became sufferers, and in some cases 
were embarrassed. Amongst others, Messrs. Hazeldine 
and Edge felt the dire effects of the disturbed state of the 
district. It is said that as a result, when an eventful 
Saturday afternoon had arrived, the head of the firm 
went to a fitter in their employ and told him that '' there 
would be no more need for his services after that day." 

The fitter inquired the reason, and the master ex- 
plained that in consequence of financial difficulties, 
caused by lack of trade, coupled with the demands of a 
voracious creditor, the firm w^as on the brink of ruin. 


It is stated that he went to James Wilkinson, who found 
sufficient capital to tide over the difficulty, the firm 
being shortly afterwards known as " Hazeldine, Edge, 
and Wilkinson." In 1818 the name is given as 
Hazeldine and Wilkinson, and in 1825 the recorded 
title of the business is ''James Wilkinson, Machinist, 
Water Street, Stalybridge." About the same period 
there existed a firm of cotton spinners trading as 
Wilkinson and Binns, Rassbottom, of which our 
subject was a partner. A few years later, Mr. Wilkinson 
removed his machinist's business to a building in Old 
Street, where he had the advantage of water power. 
Here he built up a reputation, and supplied a great 
proportion of the machinery for the mills in the town 
during the earlier half of the last century. 

Eventually he decided to become a cotton manu- 
facturer himself, and selected the hamlet afterwards 
known by the significant name of " Copley." According 
to " Butterworth," Mr. Wilkinson was building his 
mills in the year 1827. 

James Wilkinson was a keen, practical, business man, 
with experience and tact, yet he found time to interest 
himself in the affairs of the thriving town. He was one 
of the early " Police Commissioners," and was appointed 
on the 3rd of October, 1831, as an honorary " Head 

In his early days he was connected with St. George's 
Chapel, Cockerhill, where his first wife is interred. 

His migration and settlement at Copley had much to 
do with the inception of the handsome Church of St. 


Paul's, Stayley, of which he was a staunch supporter. 
Settled in his new mills at Copley, he eventually removed 
his mechanical plant from Old Street, and carried on 
the machine business in conjunction with cotton 

Although Mr. Wilkinson was alwa^'s fond of this 
district, he never forgot the place that gave him birth, 
and it was his custom in his later years to re-visit the 
scenes of his boyhood, when he would spend a few days 
at the old home with his brother Thomas. 

As a type of the men who, by perseverance and self- 
reliance carved their way from obscurity into prominence, 
James Wilkinson may be considered a worthy example. 

Mr. Wilkinson died on the 3rd July, 1857, ^^ the age 
of 67 years, and his remains were interred in the famil}^ 
vault at St. Paul's, Stayley. 


David Harrison was the son of Thomas Harrison, 
Esq., and was born at Newton ]\Ioor on the 24th 
April, 1 79 1. 

He was in the early days of the cotton industry a 
member of the firm of Thomas Harrison and Sons, 
manufacturers, Stalybridge. He attended as a jrouth 
a college at Audenshaw, at which institution he acquired 
a sound training and an education which fitted him for 
his future career. In the early days of the " Police 
Commissioners " he was always to the fore, often pre- 
siding at their meetings, and at one time occupying the 
honorary position of High-Constable of the town. He 


was a magistrate for the counties of Lancashire and 
Cheshire, and also for the West Riding of Yorkshire. 
As a Deputy-Lieutenant of Lancaster he also did service 
for the good and welfare of that county. A staunch 
supporter of the Mechanics' Institution in its early days, 
he assisted by means of his purse the inauguration of 
the present Institution, the foundation-stone of which 
he " weh and truly laid " on the 17th August, 1863. 
During the Crimean War he interested himself in the 
welfare of the wives and families of the local soldiers 
on active service. He has been described as a typical 
English gentleman in the fullest meaning of the phrase. 
Fond of outdoor exercise, he dearly loved to ride behind 
a pack of hounds, across the green pastures of the 
district, whilst as a judge of horse-flesh few country gentle- 
men were better qualified than he. As a magistrate he 
tempered justice with mercy, and even to-day some of 
our patriarchs who through some misdemeanour had 
appeared before him in their youthful days, will speak 
with a tremor in their tones as they refer to " Mestur 

Mr. Harrison w^as not prominent as a party leader. 
In religion he was a Unitarian. His success as a manu- 
facturer had little effect upon his personality ; he was 
straight and honest in all his dealings and decisions. 
His home was the house " Thompson Cross," which 
had been built by his father, and was one of the first 
modern mansions erected in the town. On the demolition 
of the old " Rassbottom Cross," Mr. Harrison had the 
circular base-stone removed into his stable-yard, where 


it was hollowed out to form a drinking- trough for the 
horses. The stone is now in the Stamford Park, near 
the Ashton entrance. Mr. Harrison lived beyond the 
allotted span, and died lamented and mourned by all 
who knew him, on the 21st October, 1872, in his 82nd 
year. During the " Bread Riots " of 1863 he showed, 
for a man of his years, great energy, will, and pluck, 
taking upon himself the duty of reading the Riot Act 
in the presence of an angry and vengeful mob. The 
following tribute came from the lips of one who in his 
day had been antagonistic to Mr. Harrison on local 
questions, the Rev. J. R. Stephens, who said within a 
few hours of Mr. Harrison's decease : 

" I hope I may even live as long as that fine old 
English gentleman who has gone to sleep to-day — 'the 
first dissenter who was appointed to the Lancashire 
magistracy after the year 1830, and, I believe, the 
truest and kindest of all the justices who ever sat upon 
this bench — -God rest his soul." 

The funeral was of a private nature, his remains being 
carried to their last resting-place in the crypt of the Old 
Chapel, Dukinfield. 


Abel Harrison was the third son of Thomas Harrison, 
of Thompson Cross House, the founder of the firm of 
Thomas Harrison and Sons, and was born on the loth 
August. 1793. 

Mr. Harrison was a practical man of business, and 
took an active part in the management of the mills. 


He built the well-known mansion, once known as 
" Highfield House," the cost of which is recorded as 
having been upwards of ^f 15, 000. The building is now 
used as a museum, etc., the grounds which surrounded 
it being absorbed in what is known as Stamford Park. 

As a man of business he had few, if any, superiors. 
A dissolution of the firm took place about the middle 
of last century, when Mr. Abel Harrison acquired the 
business of the Staley Mills, which came into the market 
through their relinquishment by Messrs. Howard and 
Ains worth. 

Although engaged in extensive manufactures, he was 
ever to the fore in all movements of importance con- 
cerning the welfare of his fellow townsmen. His upright 
and somewhat blunt manner, coupled with a straight- 
forwardness now seldom seen, gained for him the esteem 
and goodwill of all who had dealings with him. A 
keen politician and partisan, he fought fair, gave no 
favours, and expected no quarter ; thus he made a 
name for himself, and is still remembered as one of the 
staunchest men that ever lived in Stalybridge. On his 
retirement from the office of Police Commissioner in 
1857 h^ received a framed testimonial in the form of 
an address, also a silver loving cup suitably inscribed. 
They were presented to Mr. Harrison by a committee 
representing a large and influential body of his fellow- 
townsmen, who felt that it was their duty to acknowledge 
and put upon record the kindly appreciation and regard 
they felt for the numerous services rendered on their 
behalf on various occasions. The address is dated 



August loth, 1857, and signed on behalf of the com- 
mittee by the following : — .John Kiddy, President ; 
Thomas Hague, Treasurer ; George Haigh Green, 

It was the common belief that Mr. Harrison suffered 
heavy financial loss in connection with the terrific 
struggle between the North and South in the United 
States. He attained a venerable age, and passed away 
at his residence, Highfield House, on June 3rd, 1865, 
his remains being conveyed to the family tomb at 
Dukinfield Old Chapel, at which place Mr. Harrison had 
been a life-long worshipper. 


William Bayley was born at Hydes House, and 
\\as in his day one of the most notable men in this 
district. In physique he had few equals and no 

superiors. Leaving the original firm, he launched out 
and built the Clarence Mill, admitted at the time to 
be the finest and best fitted cotton-mill in England. 
In 1846 he purchased Stamford Lodge, where he made 
important improvements and where he spent the rest 
of his life. About the middle of the last century he 
assisted a scheme for a railway proposed to be con- 
structed by the L. and N.W. Railway, from Stalybridge 
to Denton, which was planned to pass under St. John's 
Church, Dukinfield. 

As a great friend of Sir Edward Watkin, he supported 
that gentleman at the time when it was expected 
Stalybridge would be enfranchised, the baronet being 


a prospective candidate. The disastrous war in the 
United States played sad havoc with his business 
affairs, the result being that Mr. Bayley retired from 
public life about the year 1863. He played many 
important parts in the history of his native town, not 
the least important being that of the first Mayor, in 
the year 1857. 

He died at Stamford Lodge on February 2nd, i8gi, 
at the venerable age of 88, and was buried at Dukin- 
field Old Chapel. 


Henry Bayley was the tliird son of Joseph Bayley, 
cotton spinner, and after receiving a serviceable 
education was taken into the concern belonging to 
his mother, Mrs. Mary Bayley, known as Bridge Street 
Mill. At the decease of their mother, the eldest brother 
Abel having withdrawn, William, Henry, and Charles 
built the extensive mills long known as Bayley Street 
Mills (on a plot of land known as " The Stakes") which 
eventually came into Mr. Henry Bayley's possession. 

As a young man our subject was known as an 
enthusiastic musician, and along with other gentlemen 
took a great interest in local musicians and their 
aspirations, being himself a player of quality ; he took 
pleasure in arranging concerts at the Stalybridge Town 
Hall, and was a prime mover in the establishment of 
the " Gentlemen's Glee Club." He was instrumental 
in bringing several celebrated London actors to the 
district. In 1841 he was the president of the " Anti- 


Monopoly League," a society which held frequent 
discussions with the '' Chartists," at that time a 
numerous body, on the topics of the hour. He died at 
Kelsall House, Stalybridge, with tragic suddenness, 
on the 19th November, 1875, aged 71 years. 


The name of Hall is connected with the woollen 
and cotton industries of Stalybridge as far back as 
the records go. Albert Hall was the son of James 
Hall, of Cocker Hill, and was born near the Old Spread 
Eagle Inn, in the year 1804. He was educated at 
Whitley Hall, a private college near Sheffield, and entered 
the cotton business of his father at King Street Mills. 
Albert Hall is remembered amongst connoisseurs by 
reason of his reputation as a judge and critic of 
paintings, drawings, and other works of art, of which 
he at one period possessed some of the choicest 
examples in the North of England. His collection 
included specimens of the work of all the great 
masters of the English School, and his advice and 
judgment, which he was ever ready to give, were always 
considered reliable. During the time when Stalybridge 
was noted for its patrons of art, there existed several 
collections of oil paintings and water-colour drawings in 
the town, one of which alone was valued at £40,000, but it 
was admitted that the choicest gems were in the possession 
of Albert Hall, Esq., and his opinion was often sought 
by his brother manufacturers ere they made an im- 
portant purchase. It has been said that Mr. Hall 


himself was an artist ; he was certainly a keen 

Albert Hall, Esq., died at East View, Old Mottram 
Road, on the 31st December, 1885, at the advanced 
age of 82, and is interred at Old St. George's Church. 

Thomas Harrison was born at West Hill, Staly- 
bridge, on the 30th October, 1823, and was the elder 
son of William Harrison, cotton manufacturer. He 
was educated at St. Domingo House, Liverpool, and 
Shrewsbury School. He was a Fellow-Commoner of St. 
John's College, Cambridge, 1845 ; took B.A. degree, 1847, 
and M.A. degree, 185 1, and was called to the Bar, 1849 ; 
J. P. for the counties of Lancaster and Chester from 1847; 
barrister-at-law of the ]\Iiddle Temple, practised on 
Northern Circuit, York. Mr. Harrison was connected 
with municipal work for many years, being Mayor from 
November 1876 to 1880. His tastes were varied — 
yachting, astronomy, bibliography, and higher mathe- 
matics. His magisterial work included the offices of 
member of the County Rating Committee, visiting 
Justice of Prisons, etc., and Income Tax Commissioner. 
As an earnest Churchman he was much interested in 
St. Paul's, Stayley, of which he was a firm supporter. 
Mr. Harrison died at Llandudno, August 12th, 1888, 
and was interred at St. Paul's Church, Stayley 

Hugh Mason was the third son of Thomas Mason ^ 


of Staly bridge, and was born at his father's 
residence in Rassbottom Street, Stalybridge, on the 
30th January, 18 17. The Mason family migrated to 
Ashton-under-Lyne, and have since been closely identi- 
fied with that town. Hugh Mason as a youth was 
placed in one of the local banks, where he remained 
until he attained his majority, after which time he 
entered the manufacturing business of his father. He 
became prominent as a public man, and filled many 
important positions, including those of Mayor and 
member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne. A 
glimpse of his early days in Stalybridge is given in a 
speech made by Mr. Mason at Chapel Street School, on 
the 25th April, 1868, from which we quote : — " His 
thoughts went back to the days of his childhood spent 
in the old school where he first learned his A.B.C. . . . 
He recollected one Sunday, going home — ^to a little 
shop where his mother sold tape and gingerbread — -and 
telling his father and mother in great glee that he had 
learned to spell." 

A platform critic once asked " when Mr. Mason had 
matriculated, what University or College did he belong 
to ? " The reply was : " The Universal College, his 
principal degree having been earned in the academy of 
practical experience." Hugh Mason, Esq., holds the 
unique position of being the only Stalybridge-born man 
to whose honour a bronze statue has been erected. 
Mr. Mason died on the 2nd February, 1886, aged 69 
years, and was interred at the Dukinfield Cemetery, 
where a mausoleum is erected. 



Two notable Staley-wood families are the Ken- 
worthys and the Kinders, whose direct descendants 
are amongst our prominent townsmen to-day. 

Since the reign of Henry VHI. the Kenworthys are 
found connected with " The Ashes," where Richard 
Kenworthy resided about 1600 ; his son Thomas 
Kenworthy, born there in 1607, died in 1667, ^-nd was 
buried at Mottram. John Kenworthy, the next heir, 
son of Thomas Kenworthy, married Elizabeth Foden, 
who survived him, and, it is assumed, built the house 
known to us as " The Ashes," to which she transferred 
the name from the " Old Ashes," which was afterwards, 
and is still known as Kinder Fold. Over the main 
entrance to "The Ashes" is an inscribed stone bearing 
initials and date, thus : F.K.— T.K., 1712 ; which are 
understood to mean Foden Kenworthy and Thomas 
Kenworthy, the eldest son of Thomas Kenworthy, who 
died in 1710. Widow Kenworthy, nee Foden, appears 
to have built this house as a home for herself and 
family, two years after her husband's death. On the 
loth February, 1701, Lydia Shepley, grand-daughter 
of Thomas Kenworthy (1607-1667), married Hugh 
Kinder, and it is assumed that he and his family 
succeeded the Kenworthys at the old dwelling which 
became known as Kinder Fold. A document bearing 
the date 21st July, 1767, being an indenture between 
the then Countess of Stamford and Mary Kenworthy, 
and inscribed with the additional names of Hugh Kinder 
and William Hope, gives the following particulars 


respecting the " Ashes " estate at that period, when it 
apparently embraced the following plots of land, viz. : — 
" The Bank-meadow ; the Croft ; the Well-bank ; the 
Slate-croft ; the Lime-croft ; the Foxhill ; the Cote- 
meadow ; the Path ; the Broad-field ; the Four-acre ; 
the Further Four-acre ; the Marled-earth ; and the 
Wood : containing by common estimation, thirty acres 
of land of the large Cheshire measure." 

The Kenworthys intermarried with the Shepleys, 
Kinders, Boyers or Bowers, and the Mellors, all of 
whom were amongst the pioneers of the woollen manu- 
facture in Stayley, several of them keeping their own 
flocks of sheep, from whose backs they sheared the 
fleece, and transformed it into cloth on their own premises. 
One member of the family, Samuel Kinder, was a 
manufacturer and clothier at Hyde Green, near Har- 
ridge, and it was with him that Lawrence Earnshaw, of 
Mottram, " was first apprenticed to the business of 
clothier " (Butterworth, p. 201 ; 1827), being afterwards 
engaged as a clock-maker by a Mr. Shepley, of Stockport, 
presumably a kinsman of the Kinders of Staley-wood. 

The Kenworthys appear to have been interested in 
the Old Bridgewater Navigation Company, during its 
infancy, the original value of whose shares was £yo each, 
but which in 1843 were all bought up at £800 per share 
by the Duke of Bridgewater. 

There have been several prolonged litigations in 
connection with the Kenworthys and the Kinders of " The 
Ashes," the most important lasting from 1844 until 
1852 : the issue at stake being estimated at that time 


as £98,832 IIS. 6d. Towards the costs of procuring 
information in support of the claim to the above sum, 
the Kinder family alone subscribed the amount of 
£2, 000. The case was never settled. 


Amongst the early manufacturers of the valley 
there were several branches of the " Halls." 

The " Halls " of Cocker Hih may be traced as follows : 
Joseph Hah, born about 1726, was, at the end of 1799, 
described as a " cloth-miher." His remains were 
interred in Cocker Hih Church-yard, where the mscrip- 
tion, " Joseph Hall, cloth-miller, died December 9, 1799, 
aged 73," may be seen. 

His son and successor was James Hah, who was born 
about 1762, and established a business as " cotton- 
spinner of fine counts in the vicinity of the old Eagle 
Inn." Very early in the last century he appears to 
have migrated to Bowling Green Mills, King Street, 
where he built the house now occupied by Mr. Horace 
Stokes. Mr. Hall was a practical man, and whilst 
engaged in the carding department of his mill, he 
accidentally got his arm into the machinery, the effect 
of which was that the limb had to be amputated. 
After this misfortune, Mr. Hall was known amongst 
the operatives as '' Owd Nelson." James Hall, cotton 
spinner, died May 24th, 1848, aged 76. 

The Bayleys came from Hooley Hill. Auden- 
shaw. where, about the middle of the i8th century, 


Joseph Bayley was a yeoman farmer. He married the 
widow of WiUiam Harrison (nee Sarah Stopford, of 
High Ash, Audenshaw) and was the father of Joseph, 
James, John, and WiUiam Bayley, who were half- 
brothers to Thomas Harrison, of Thompson Cross, and 
Mrs. John Lees, of Castle Hall, Stalybridge. 

Joseph Bayley, of Hooley Hill, had occasion to visit 
Manchester during the time when the "King's Service" 
required able-bodied men, and being a very fine and 
powerful man, he is supposed to have been taken by 
the press-gang, as he disappeared, and was never heard 
of again (1793). His sons came to Stalybridge, where 
they settled, and entered the cotton trade. Joseph 
Bayley, junior, built Bridge Street Mill and Hydes 
House. James Bayley married Jane, the eldest 
daughter of George Cheetham, and built Albion Mills, 
also Albion House. He had a large family, one of 
whom, Charles Cheetham Bayley, succeeded his father 
in the business, and built the mansion known as The 
Woodlands, whilst Miss Ellen Bayley married Frederick 
Reyner, and Miss Sarah Bayley married John Newton 
of Fox Hill. 

The Bayleys were remarkable for their business 
capacities and exceptionally fine physique, also for 
their love of all field sports. 


The name of Mellor is amongst the early pioneers 
of our local industry. They are said to have built 
the King Street Mills, and the names of the well- 


known " Mellor Brow," and also of the once-famed 
spring well, "Mellor's Drop," are significant. The 
building now known as the " Talbot Inn " is said to 
have been the home of the Mellors, and it is quite 
certain that the well-known firm of cotton manufac- 
turers in Ashton-under-Lyne were of Stalybridge origin. 
Several members of the family are interred in the 
confines of Cocker Hill Churchyard. Thomas Mellor, 
the founder of the firm of Thomas Mellor and Sons, 
married Mary, the daughter of Thomas Walton, of 
Stalybridge, and we are very proud to know that the 
family of which Thomas Walton Mellor, Esq., was the 
head originated on both sides from Stalybridge. The 
Waltons were at one time well-known business people, 
and are still vividly remembered by the older inhabitants 
as typical English gentlemen. 


John Orrell, the founder of " Orrell's Mills," 
afterwards known as " Kirk's," in Water Street, 
was born in the early half of the eighteenth century, 
and built one of the earliest of our typical cotton 
factories. It was at Orrell's mill that Thomas Mason 
commenced work, and reached the position of over 
looker at 26s. per w^eek. John Orrell died January 
30th, 1800. His son and successor, Thomas Orrell, 
was born about the year 1778, and built for himself the 
residence known as Hob Hill House, which stood in its 
own grounds. Thomas Orrell was known as a successful 
cotton manufacturer for many years. He died 3rd 


January, 1853, aged 75 years, and was interred in the 
family vault at Old St. George's 


Luke Wagstaffe, the founder of the family in 
this town, was a native of Mottram, and a black- 
smith by occupation. He settled in Stalybridge about 
1790, and in addition to the usual work of the village 
smith and farrier, began to make spindles for the local 
cotton - spinners. The writer remembers seeing the 
dehvery book of Luke Wagstaffe, in which were entered 
the dates when he supplied the various manufacturers 
— Messrs. Lees, Harrison, Cheetham, Leech and others — 
with " steel spindles " of various lengths and thicknesses, 
in quantities of " i dozen " and '' 2 dozen " at a time. 
John Wagstaffe, the son of the spindle-maker, married 
Hannah Sidebottom, sister to William Sidebottom, whilst 
his son, James Wagstaffe, married a Miss Robinson, and 
in conjunction with his cousin, Edward Sidebottom, 
commenced business at Cock-Brook factory, where they 
built up a trade which encouraged them to launch out 
and build Aqueduct Mills, and there they became suc- 
cessful manufacturers under the title of Wagstaffe and 

John Wagstaffe died on the ist February, 1855, aged 
yS years. James Wagstaffe met his death through a 
trap accident whilst returning from a shooting expedition 
to Saddleworth, and after lingering some time he died 
5th June, 1837, aged 34 years. 

Tw^o very fine portraits of Mr. and Mrs. James Wag- 


staffe were hung in the staircase during the Jubilee 
Exhibition. They were painted in 1829 t>3'T. H. IlUdge, 
R.A., who was subsequently commissioned to paint the 
portrait of Lord Stanley (afterwards Earl of Derby) which 
now hangs in the Langworthy Gallery, Peel Park, Salford. 
This is another instance of the taste and patronage of 
our successful townsmen in bygone times. 


The Vaudrey family appears to be of Cheshire 
origin. The name is in the list of North-East Cheshire 
cotton manufacturers in the eighteenth century. 

A branch of the family lived in this district nearly 
one hundred and fifty years ago, as proved by documents 
in the possession of the family. Thomas Vaudrey was 
born about the year 1756, and was connected with the 
Grosvenor Street Mills. He built the residence occupied 
by Dr. McCarthy, which is still known as Vaudrey 

Thomas Vaudrey had two sons, Edward and John 
Vaudrey, who were prominent men in the town during 
the early part of last century. It appears that at one 
period the Vaudreys were interested in the Grosvenor 
Street IMills, the firm being known as Leech and Vaudrey. 
Thomas Vaudrey died 6th July, 1838, aged 82. Edward 
Vaudrey died 21st December, 1840, aged 54. John 
Vaudrey died 26th March, 1832, aged 37. There are a 
number of the Vaudrey family buried at Denton Old 
Chapel, but those named above are interred at the Old 
Chapel, Dukinfield. That the Vaudreys were people of 


taste is shown by the splendid collection of family por- 
traits which was lent by various members of the family 
to the Jubilee Exhibition of 1907, where they created 
much interest and were greatly admired by the thousands 
of visitors who had the opportunity of seeing them. 


The name of Samuel Bates is pronunent in the 
records of the village of Stalybridge, he being one 
of the first cotton-mill managers when the trade was 
in its infancy. He is described as being impetuous and 
practical, and, like many of the pioneers, suffered from 
an accident, by which he lost the sight of one eye, the 
result of an experiment with the power-loom. He 
could card, weave, and spin, having passed through the 
various processes as a workman. He was known as 
the manager of the Stone Factory, Messrs. Halls, Castle 

Samuel Bates was twice married. By his first wife 
he had two sons, John and Samuel. Samuel Bates, junr. 
went to Copley, John Bates remained at Castle Street 
Mills, where he, too, became manager and afterwards 
a partner in the firm of Messrs. Hall and Bates. In the 
days of the Police Commissioners John Bates was a very 
active member of that body, and in other ways was of 
much service to the growing town. His career was cut 
short by death on the ist September, 1851, when he 
passed away at the comparatively early age of 44 years, 
leaving a widow and one son, Ralph Bates, to mourn 
his loss. 



" The Sidebottoms," as the local firm of cotton 
manufacturers are generally spoken of, were a branch 
of the ancient family which gave its name to Side- 
bottom Fold, Stayley. 

Leaving their hill-side home in the latter part of the 
eighteenth century, we find mention in the old Directories 
of 1794 and 1797 of : — " William Sidebottom, cotton 
spinner, James Sidebottom, cotton spinner, and Edward 
Sidebottom, woollen manufacturer." 

At a later period, 1825, we find a William Sidebottom 
in business in Caroline Street, Stalybridge, he being the 
father of Edward Sidebottom, who, in his turn, was 
father to Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom, Walter Side- 
bottom, and James Sidebottom. 

Mr. Edward Sidebottom went into partnership with 
Mr. James Wagstaffe, and they commenced business at 
the little mill in Currier Lane, now known as Cock- 
Brook. Their business prospered, and they built 
Aqueduct Mills, which they worked until about the 
year 1836, when the partnership ended. 

The Robinson Street Mills were built by a Mr. Daniel 
Howard, who through some cause or other relinquished 
possession, and the establishment passed into the hands 
of the firm afterwards known as " Edward Sidebottom 
and Sons." 

Edward Sidebottom at the time of his death (24th 
December, 1854) was a Justice of the Peace for the 
sister counties of Lancashire and Cheshire. 

Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom, his eldest son, was 


Mayor of Stalybridge in 1860-61. He died 30th January, 
187 1, aged 53 years. Walter Sidebottom, the second 
son, died nth March, 1875, aged 53. Both of these 
gentlemen were bachelors. 


The name of Ridgway is inseparable from the 
mechanical history of Stalybridge, for in the infancy of 
the cotton industry the members of the famih' who lived 
in the vicinity of Roe-Cross, Mottram, were known as 
wheelwrights, carpenters, and machinists, one member, 
in particular, by name Ignatius Ridgway, being gifted 
with the faculty of mechanical application to a 
remarkable degree. His ingenuity enabled him to 
construct and improve the primitive preparation 
machines in use in the cotton mills at that time, and he 
made carding engines, with doffers, flats, and cylinders, 
completing the machines and fixing them upon wood 
supports. Randal Ridgway, the nephew of this man, 
came to Stalj^bridge in 1828, and worked as a hand- 
spinner at Messrs. Wagstaffes and Sidebottoms. On 
the dissolution of the partnership in 1836, Mr. Ridgway 
was promoted to the post of manager for Mr. John 
Wagstaffe, with full control of the Aqueduct Mills. As 
a public man he held the positions of Police Com- 
missioner, Town Councillor, and Justice of the Peace. 
Randal Ridgway, J. P., died December nth, 1878, aged 
80 years. 

John Ridgway, son of the above, is also well remem- 
bered in the town. As a youth he was apprenticed to 


the well-known firm of Lancashire machinists, Messrs. 
Parr, Curtis, and Madeley, and ultimately became the 
head of the mechanical department at Grosvenor Street 
Mills. A staunch supporter of the Mechanics' Institu- 
tion and a firm adherent to the Co-operative Society, in 
fact, a front-rank man in every movement affecting the 
welfare of his fellow-townsmen, to whom he rendered 
excellent service. John Ridgway died December 28th, 
1884, aged 66, respected and regretted by all who 
knew him. 


The firm, or firms, known as Adsheads are recorded 
as being the first in this district to introduce the 
spinning mule. The earliest member of the family of 
which we have been able to find a trace was Edward 
Adshead, of Stalybridge, who died i8th January, 1800, 
aged 98, and whose name is inscribed upon a tombstone 
in Dukinfield Old Chapel-yard, where many other 
members of the family are interred, including William 
Adshead, died 26th March, 1795, aged 35 ; Edward 
Adshead, died 17th June, 1820, aged 51 ; and James 
Adshead, died 19th October, 1839, ^S^^ 44- 

The Adsheads appear to have originated from the 
neighbourhood of Millbrook, the substantial house 
thereat known as " The Wood " having been built by 
one of the family. 

Stayley New Mills, Stocks Lane, were built by the 
Adsheads, and the fine modern mills, North-End and 
River Meadow, were also erected by them. Originally 



the family were connected with the Old Chapel, Dukin- 
field, where they worshipped, but upon the inauguration 
of St. Paul's, Stayley, they attached themselves to that 
Church, to which they gave much financial aid and 
support. George Adshead, of " The Stocks," died 30th 
June, 1865, aged 66 ; James Adshead, of " Acres Bank," 
died loth March, i860, aged 6g. 


Thomas Ousey, farmer and woollen manufacturer, 
held the farm on the right-hand side of Ridge Hill 
Lane, near the Quarr3% now in the possession of Mr. 
Allen. In the year 1823 the farm consisted of 
about twenty-four acres of land, a substantial modern 
house, and improved out-buildings, which had been 
enlarged and modernized. Thomas Ousey had a 
large family, the best known of whom were Robert 
and Thomas, who became veterinary surgeons ; John, 
w^ho was well known as an auctioneer ; Jane, who 
became Mrs. Henry Lees, and Sarah, who is still 
remembered as Miss Ousey, of Heyrod Hall. 

Ralph Ouse}/, of Heyrod Hall, was connected with 
the mill afterwards known as the Print Works, and also 
with Black- Rock Mill. When the railway was con- 
structed in 1844, the line passed through the centre 
portion of Heyrod Hall Estate, and Mr. Ousey sold 
the land to the company, and went to reside near Liver- 
pool. A well-known railway contractor and engineer, 
Mr. Nowell, resided at Heyrod Hall for some time, but 
after the completion and opening of the line, the railway 


company, having bought more land than was requisite, 
sold the Hall back again to Mr. Ousey, who returned 
to the place and ended his days there. 

Ralph Ousey died in 1855, and was interred at Cocker 
Hill Church, where many of the Ouseys are buried. 

Thomas Ousey, of Ridge-hill, and Ralph Ousey, of 
Heyrod, were cousins. 


Francis DukinfieldAstley, Esq. — James Sidebottom, Esq., jP., 
M.P.- William Summers, Esq., M.P.— Dr. Hopwood, V.D., J.P.— 
Robert Smith, Esq. 

'■ We have only been able to ihvell upon the more notable 
of our local worthies." 

James Croston, F.S.A. 


John Astley, Esq., and was born at Dukinlield 
Lodge in 1781. His father died in 1787. His first 
rudiments of education were received at Hyde, and 
from thence he went to Chester, Rugby, and finally 
became a Fellow-Commoner at Christ Church, Oxford. 
At the age of twenty-five he was appointed High 
Sheriff of Cheshire, a position which had been held by 
many of his ancestors. Mr. Astley was an ideal country 


squire, besides being a scholar and a gentleman, and 
the interest he took in the aspect of the locality is 
evinced in the fact that he planted no fewer than 
40,000 trees on his estates in this district, for which 
act he was presented in 1807 with the silver medal of 
the " Society for the Improvement in Agriculture," and 
he moreover encouraged his tenants, as a silver cup 
bearing the inscription " Presented to James Ash ton, 
for keeping his farm in good repair," tends to show. 
Mr. Astley was a daring rider and a thorough sportsman, 
and as a rendez.vous for kindred spirits he built the 
well-known " Hunter's Tower " in 1807. During the 
period of the war with France, he remitted the rents 
of his tenantry, and distributed large sums of money 
to alleviate the distress in this neighbourhood. Thinking 
to benefit the district, he commenced iron-smelting, 
but the venture was a dire failure, and Mr. Astley lost 
a large fortune thereby. He published several books, 
which are now scarce, and was always a patron of art 
and literature. When Butterworth was struggling and 
seeking subscribers for his books, a friend who was 
acquainted with Mr. Astley sought his patronage on 
behalf of the historian. " What does it mean ? " 
asked Mr. Astley. '' Well, ten copies, sir," said the 
friend. "Nay," replied the Squire, "put another 
ought to it, and I am willing, and I will pay for them 
now," which he did. The following song was wTitten 
by Mr. Astley to commemorate the opening of the 
Hunter's Tower, on the 27th February, 1807 '> the day 
w^as exceedingly rough and stormy : 


"Though the Stormy Winds do Blow." 

(Air — " Ye Gentlemen of England.") 

Hark ! how with northern fury, the gales around us blow, 
And bear upon their angry wings the chase-forbidding snow ; 
What though from storms opposing, our hunting we forego. 
Let our wine in goblets shine, though the stormy winds do blow. 
Whilst Bacchus holds his empire here, Diana sure will join, 
And when we tell our gallant runs, we '11 pledge her sports in wine; 
For from her sports proceeding, health gives the ruddy glow, 
Driving care, and despair, though the stormy winds do blow. 
Should Venus hither lead her court, and leave the Cyprian bower; 
And Love invite the blooming maid, to grace this favour'd Tower, 
Then as from lips of beauty, consenting accents flow, 
The hail and rain may rage in vain, and the stormy whirlwinds blow. 

Who thinks of toil and danger, as o'er opposing rocks, 

Deep vales, heaths, woods, and mountains, we urge the subtle fox ? 

And when the sport is over, with joy we homeward go ; 

And the gay chase, in song retrace, though the stormy winds do blow. 

Mr. Astley died with startling suddenness whilst on 
a visit to some friends, on the 23rd July, 1825. His 
body was brought home, and interred in the family 
vault at Dukinfield Old Chapel. 


James Sidebottom was the third son of Edward 
Sidebottom, Esq., J. P., cotton spinner, and was 
born at '* The Hydes," Stalybridge, in June, 1824. 
His father intended him for a commercial career, 
and to that end sent him to be educated at the Man- 
chester Grammar School, where he received a sound 

Upon the completion of his schooling he was placed 


in the counting-house of the Robinson Street MiUs, and 
forthwith became a member of the firm of " Edward 
Sidebottom and Sons." 

Although Mr. Sidebottom was not gifted by nature 
with the robustness and physique for which most of 
our local " cotton-masters " were noted, he was ever 
in the forefront when matters affecting the welfare of 
the town and its people were in question, and from the 
time of his advent into public life until his lamented 
death, he '' stood his corner " and " did his best." 

His name figures in the list of Police Commissioners 
prior to 1857, ^ body with which the Sidebottoms had 
been connected from its inception. When the In- 
corporation of the Borough took place fifty years 
ago, Mr. Sidebottom was elected one of the first Alder- 
men, being at the time about 33 years of age. 

On the 9th of November, 1864, he was nominated and 
selected to fill the Mayoral chair, as Chief Magistrate, a 
position he occupied for three years in succession, a 
period during which the re-action of the " Cotton 
Panic " had its effect in various ways. During his term 
of office as Mayor he performed many local functions, 
one of the most notable being the laying of the founda- 
tion-stone of the present Victoria Market. 

Always on the best of terms with his workpeople, 
known personally to almost everyone in the town, 
without any show of pomposity or self-importance, he 
was ever in touch with his fellow-townsmen, and knew 
their feelings and failings. No wonder therefore that 
Mr. Sidebottom was selected by his party as a candidate 


for " Parliamentary honours " on the enfranchisement 
of the borough. Subsequently he contested the election, 
and was returned as the representative of his native 
town in the House of Commons on the 19th November, 
1868, by a large majority. 

The first election is described by the veterans of both 
political parties as the keenest of all past struggles, the 
excitement increasing as the campaign proceeded. The 
declaration of the result of the poll did not suit the 
feelings of Mr. Sidebottom's adversaries, who, question- 
ing the validity of the election, took proceedings which 
led to further excitement, and prolonged matters, 
undoubtedly to the detriment of the health of the 
sitting member. 

A determination and desire to do his duty to his 
constituents impelled Mr. Sidebottom to attend at 
Westminster with great regularity. The re-action, 
however, set in. It was apparent to those who knew 
him best that the strain was too severe, yet, in the face 
of the advice of his medical and other friends, he " stuck 
to his guns " until it could no longer be denied that 
" the chequer' d years had told their tale, and nature 
would not be cajoled." 

Early in the year 1870 the signs of ill-health mani- 
fested themselves, and although no thoughts of serious 
results were entertained, Mr. Sidebottom never regained 
his full vigour. The winter of 1870- 1 proved too much 
for him, and he passed away at his residence. Acres 
Bank, on the 14th of February, 1871, at the compara- 
tively early age of 47 years. 


It is gratifying and interesting to sit and listen, in 
the chimney corner, to the recital of some party veteran, 
as he details the many episodes connected with Mr. 
Sidebottom's political career. To-day we can look 
through untinted spectacles at our subject, and feel 
proud to claim him as a man who in all things had the 
welfare of his fellow- townsmen at heart. 

On the occasion of his funeral the route was thronged 
with persons of every grade, who by their presence 
paid a tribute of silent, yet heart-felt respect to Mr, 
Sidebottom's memory. 

Above his last resting-place in the burial-ground at 
St. George's Church, The Hague, there stands a beautiful 
memorial, which was erected by a few of his best friends. 
His portrait and his name are still familiar in the homes 
of his admirers, and even those who in the political 
struggles of the past fought against him, hip and thigh, 
still admit that " Little Jimmy was a decent chap : 
we could do with a few of his sort to-day." 

Scholar and Politician. 

William Summers was the second son of John 
Summers, Esq., ironmaster, and was born at Staly- 
bridge on the 4th November, 1853. 

He was educated at the private school of Mr. Wood, 
Alderley Edge, Cheshire, after which he entered Owens 
College about the year 1869. Gifted and clever, he 
became a very successful student, and gained honours 
at the College examinations. At the examination for 


the first B.A. (London) in 1871 he took the exhibition 
in EngUsh, of £^0 per annum, for two years, and was 
placed fifth in the second class in Latin. At the exam- 
ination for honours following, for the B.A. degree, 1872, 
he was placed first in the third class in Logic and ]\Ioral 
Philosophy. At the examination for honours, following 
the first LL.B. examination, he was bracketed second 
in the second class of Jurisprudence and Roman Law. 
In 1872 he was elected an associate of the College. 
In 1874 he entered University College, Oxford, and in 
1877 took the B.A. degree with a second class. At the 
examination for the M.A. degree (London) he took the 
Gold Medal in classics, the highest honour which the 
London University could confer, its value being 
enhanced by the fact that it had only been awarded 
on eight previous occasions. At College he also took the 
following scholarships and prizes,— In 1872, the Early 
English Society's Prize ; 1872, the Wellington (Greek 
Testament) Scholarships, ;f20 ; 1872, the Shakespeare 
Scholarship, ^^40 per annum for two years ; 1873, the 
Shuttleworth History Prize ; 1873, the English Essay 

When Mr. Summers left Oxford he read for the Bar, 
and was called at Lincoln's Inn, in 1881. 

In addition to his scholarly achievements he was 
exceedingly proficient as a linguist, speaking French, 
German, Italian, Spanish, and a little Scandinavian and 
Russian. Even at the time of his death he was acquiring 
a knowledge of Old Hebrew and Greek. 

His first appearance on the political platform is said 


to have occurred at the Ashton-under-Lyne Town 
Hall, during the series of meetings held in consequence 
of the " Bulgarian atrocities " in the year 1876. In 
November, 1878, it was publicly announced that Mr. 
Summers would be a candidate for Parliamentary 
honours at the forthcoming election. Eventually he 
was adopted as candidate by the Liberal party of 
Stalybridge and Dukinfield, and on the 13th March, 
1880, he published his address to the electors. He was 
nominated by William Storrs, Esq., and Thomas Beeley, 
Esq., and was returned as M.P. for the borough in the 
contest that followed on April 3rd, 1880. 

In May, 1881, he delivered his maiden speech in the 
House of Commons. His speech on the second reading 
of Mr. Gladstone's Irish Land Bill created a very 
favourable impression, and he was selected by the 
party leaders to second the Address at the opening of 
the 1S84 Session. In 1881 he visited Ireland, and 
obtained much practical knowledge for future use. 
At the General Election of 1885 he again contested 
his native town, but was defeated b}- his previous 
adversary, Tom Harrop Sidebottom, Esq. His absence 
from Westminster during the succeeding Parliament 
provided him with the opportunity of travelling 
abroad, and he subsequently visited Turkey, Greece, 
Russia, Egypt, Spain, Portugal, and the United States 
of America. At the General Election of 1886 he was 
the recipient of invitations from various important 
constituencies, and ultimately selected Huddersfield, for 
which town he was returned to Parliament, being 


re-elected at the General Election of 1892. At this 
period Mr. Summers was recognised as one of the most 
effective platform speakers of his time, his services 
being eagerly sought throughout the United Kingdom. 

On the 14th of October, 1892, he left this country 
for India, his intention being to remain absent for about 
three months. On his arrival at Bombay in the middle 
of November he proceeded to Peshawur, Lucknow, 
Cawnpore, Agra, and finally, Allahabad, where, it is 
believed that he intended being present at the con- 
ference then being held in connection with the National 
Indian Congress. It was while staying at Allahabad 
that he was attacked by a malignant type of small-pox, 
which rapidly reached a critical stage and proved fatal. 
Mr. Summers died on the ist January, 1893, and would 
in all probability, according to the custom of the 
country, be interred within a few hours of his decease. 
The sad news fell like a thunderbolt upon the people 
of this district, and upon all hands were heard heart-felt 
expressions of regret and sorrow at the sudden and 
unexpected termination of a brilliant career. Within 
a few hours of the receipt of the news, his old political 
opponent, T. H. Sidebottom, Esq., penned a letter to a 
friend from which the following words are quoted : — ■ 

" Etherow House, Jan. 3rd, 1893 I have had 

the misfortune to differ from him in politics, but cannot 
refrain from saying that I most deeply and sincerely 

lament and deplore his loss He was always a 

most powerful and formidable opponent, but, after the 
battle, was ever ready to shake hands and be friends. 


.... He had the possibiHties of a great — perhaps a 
very great — ^future before him." 

The columns of the London and provincial Press 
contained many references to the career, character, and 
public service of Mr. Summers, from which the following 
selections have been culled : — 

" Mr. Summers' death will be regretted by a large 
circle of friends ; especially those interested in educa- 
tion, who found in him a warm supporter." 

'' He had a thirst for information on all imaginable 
subjects, ... in manner was quiet and earnest." 

"He never flinched from the advocacy of a cause 
which excited his sympathy, however unpopular that 
cause might for the moment be — yet he managed to do 
so without losing the respect or the affection of those 
who disagreed with and opposed him." 

'' He was deeply interested in social questions, and 
by his actions in Parliament, and his writing in reviews, 
endeavoured to advance reforms." 

" It will be long before his kindly presence will have 
faded away from the memory of those who were 
fortunate enough to know him." 

" Mr. Summers never ceased to be in direct touch 
with the industrial classes, as the son of a large employer 
of labour. He knew from personal experience more of 
the requirements of the sons of toil, and he could see 
with greater precision the direction of their aspirations 
than many politicians of riper years. It was his 
ambition to offer at least a modest meed of help in the 


momentous work of diminishing ignorance, indigence, 
and crime." 

''All who knew Mr. Summers will regret his untimely 
death, for he was one of the most kindly of the men 
who were returned to the last Parliament.' 

From a letter written in reference to Mr. Summers 
during his lifetime by the late Rt. Hon. John Bright, 
we give the following quotation: — 

" As one of the younger members he is regarded with 
much esteem, and also with much hope of his future, 
by members of the late House of Commons." 

Still vivid in the minds and memories of many of his 
fellow - townsmen is their recollection of William 
Summers. Well known to the working people, their 
interests and his own were one ; and it is gratifying 
at this date to read the honest expressions of his political 
opponents as to his personal merits. We cannot bedeck 
his tomb with a wreath of immortelles, but we can cherish 
with a feeling of pride the knowledge that he was a 
credit and an honour to the town that gave him birth. 

William Summers, although cut down in the zenith 
of his career, had achieved distinction and recognition, 
and has left behind him ineffaceable imprints, not only 
on the records of this locality, but also in the annals of 
his country. His record was one series of scholarly 
and mental victories. 


Robert Hopwood was the son of John and 
Martha Hopwood, respectable and striving folks. 


belonging to the operative class. At the time of our 
subject's birth they resided in Ridge Hill Lane, their 
cottage being one of four which stood on the right-hand 
side as the pedestrian ascended the old road. The 
particular buildings were demolished some years ago 
during road improvements. Robert Hopwood was born 
on the i8th October, 1814, and, like many of his notable 
fellow-townsmen, commenced life in a very humble 
manner. As a boy he was employed at the cotton -mill 
of Messrs. Harrison, but showed earh' aptitude for a 
better position. He became as a youth a book-keeper 
in this mill, and lost no opportunity for self-improve- 
ment. A taste for anatomy and the study of physic, 
developed itself, the result being that he eventually 
became associated with Dr. Thompson, of Stalybridge, 
and, finally, qualified as a surgeon. 

On the formation of the Stalybridge Town Council in 
1857 he was elected a member. In 1S61 he was IMayor 
of the town, and retained the honour for three successive 
years. It was during the trying times of the "Bread Riots" 
that the " Little Doctor " proved his grit and pluck. 
He rode on horse-back amongst a shower of stones and 
other missiles which were being hurled at the heads of 
the soldiers and policemen, and yet above all the hubbub 
and din were heard the entreating words, " Don't hit 
the Mayor." As Mayor he was chairman of the 
Relief Committee, a position of great responsibility. 
Amongst other things he was a strong advocate of 
the water-w^orks scheme, a director of the Stalybridge 
Gas Works, and first chairman of the School Board, 


which last office he held for a period of fifteen years. He 
was connected with the Mechanics' Institution from its 
commencement, and was the president of the Field 
Naturahsts' Society connected with that establishment. 
As a member of the committee of the District Infirmary, 
and also as one of its medical officers, he did excellent 
service, being elected as president of its Board of 
Governors in 1890. In the early days of the Volunteer 
Movement he was to the fore, being enrolled on the 
5th December, 1861. He attained the rank of Surgeon- 
Major in the Battalion, retiring from the service on the 
9th May, 1883. 

The older residents have many pleasant anecdotes 
about Dr. Hopwood, which, like those of our other 
local worthies, lose nothing in the telling. He resided 
for a long time in Portland Place, but on his retirement 
went to hve at Heathfield, where, on the i8th April, 
1897, he passed away at the advanced age of 83 years. 
His widow, Mrs. Maria Naomi Hopwood, survived him 
nearly three years, dying on January 27th, 1900, aged 
96 years. 


Robert Smith, Schoolmaster, of Mount Pleasant 
Academy, Stalybridge, will long be spoken of by 
the residents of this district. A grateful remembrance 
of the beneficial results of his connection with the town 
and its people, in return for the practical and solid 
system of education he established, will linger in the 
hearts and minds of generations yet to come. The 


traces of his labours are to be seen in the personalities 
of our leading successful fellow townsmen, whilst the 
past and gone celebrities of the locality were mostly 
men who had been at some time his pupils. Robert 
Smith was a native of Linlithgow, Scotland, where he 
was born in the year 1807, exactly a century ago. When 
about seventeen years of age he migrated to Stalybridge, 
where he remained as a resident for the rest of his life. 
He came to live with his uncle, Mr. Watson, who at 
that time had charge of the day school in Chapel Street, 
and with whom the young Scotsman was soon in harness 
as a pupil teacher. He was also connected with the 
Sunday School which was held in the same building, 
and the books, which bear the date May i, 1825, give 
ample proof that the managers were alive to the abilities 
of Robert Smith as a penman. 

Writing in those bygone days played a very important 
part in Sunday School work. Hundreds of children 
acquired the benefit of being able to read and write 
in the Sunday Schools, who would never have had the 
opportunity at other times. 

It was the custom to appoint the best writers in the 
Sunday School as writing masters. In the record dated 
19th June, 1825, there is a list of these teachers, the 
names appearing in rotation, according to ability. The 
name of Robert Smith heads the list, the second being 
John Bates, grandfather of our present Chief Constable ; 
following come the names of Thomas Wadsworth, 
Jesse Tinker, and others. 

It would appear that Robert Smith was the successor 


of his uncle, Mr. Watson, for it is recorded that on the 
ist June, 1830, he became tenant of the school, for the 
purpose of week-day instruction. For a period extending 
over many years he carried on his day school in Chapel 
Street. Time passed on, and Mr. John Booth erected 
the well-remembered buildings which stood behind the 
branch Co-operative Store, Mount Pleasant, and there 
Mr. Smith took up his quarters on leaving the old 
school down in the town. Here he ruled his mixed flock 
with full control, and with great credit to himself 
and benefit to his pupils, until within a short time of 
his death. His spare, active figure is still remembered, 
and the peculiarities and mannerisms which seem to be 
inseparable from the vocation he followed are still 
spoken of by his former pupils. 

On Wednesday, the 5th February, 1875, he was at 
his usual post in the school, but about ten o'clock in 
the evening he was taken ill and Dr. Hop wood was 
called in. It was found that he had heart trouble, and 
although he would not acknowledge it he gradually grew 
worse, until, after a day or two's suffering he passed 
away in the early hours of Saturday morning, February 
8th, 1875, aged 67. 

As was to be expected, his labours in the town for a 
period of over fifty years had forged for him a circle 
of connections amongst all classes, and it was said at 
the time of his decease that if all his friends were to be 
invited to his funeral it would mean a house to house 
visitation. The special feature, if there was any special 
feature, in his system of education, was the care and style 



in writing which his pupils acquired. The penmanship 
which may still be seen preserved in the homes of many 
residents, in the form of manuscript exercises, is of a 
different stamp to that in vogue to-day. 

His funeral was announced to be of a private nature, 
yet, notwithstanding this fact, a number of his old 
pupils, including several magistrates, town councillors, 
and others, assembled at the old school, and accom- 
panied the remains to their last abiding place in St. 
Paul's Churchyard. 

Chapter 5. 


John Summers, Esq., J. P. — William Storrs, Esq., J. P. — 
Thomas Wainwright, Esq., J. P. —Robert Broadbent, Esq., J. P.— 
Messrs. Taylor, Lang & Co. — Edward Buckley, Esq. 

"God helps them that help themselves.*' 

Benjamin Franklyn. 

Ti^OHN SUMMERS was a native of Bolton, Lanca- 
^ shire, and was born on the 17th May, 1822. 
According to his own statements he was his own master 
at the age of fifteen years, and it was his delight to 
speak upon the subject to his friends, and tell of the 
struggles and trials of his earl}^ years. Mr. Summers 
was in business in this district about 1848, and subse- 
quently founded the now extensive firm which bears 
his name. Possessed of a keen business foresight, he 


studied the market prices of material, and profited 
largely by investments which he made. Mr. Summers 
was much interested in the Mechanics' Institution 
where he rendered excellent service. It may be of 
interest to know that when the idea of Public Baths 
was mooted in Stalybridge, Mr. Summers entered into 
the question with great energy. About the year 1866 
the desire for " Baths " asserted itself, and was discussed 
by the Town Council. A public meeting for the purpose 
of assisting the project was called, the result being that 
Messrs. John and William Leech offered ;f500 towards 
the object proposed, and other sums were promised. 
A deputation was appointed to wait upon Robert Piatt, 
Esq., at Dunham Hall, when Mr. Summers, as one of 
the party, introduced the question and pleaded so ably 
for it that, after listening patiently, Mr. Piatt retired 
to consult his wife upon the matter, and returning, 
said that he (Mr. Piatt) and Mrs. Piatt were prepared 
to erect the necessary Public Baths at their own cost. 

Mr. Summers was the first Chairman of the Baths 
Committee, having been a member of the Town Council 
in 1858-61, and again from 1865 to 1870. 

John Summers, Esq., died on the loth April, 1876, 
at the age of 54 years, and his remains were interred 
at St. John's Church, Dukinfield. 

William Storrs was the son of George Storrs, 
a corn miller, of Doncaster, and was born on the 
3rd July, 1828, at Sheffield. 


His parents migrated to Stalybridge about the year 
1832. As a lad the future contractor was apprenticed 
to Mr. John Bayley to learn the trade of joiner, and on 
attaining his majority, worked for some short period 
as a journeyman. This position did not satisfy his 
ambition, for we find that in the year 185 1 Mr. Storrs 
commenced business on his own account as a builder 
and contractor. He soon worked up a connection, 
and established a reputation which grew, until his 
name became recognised not only in this district 
but throughout the North of England as that of a 
conscientious and experienced builder. As a proof of 
the solid and business-like manner of his dealings, he 
has left behind him many pleasant memories, whilst 
numerous buildings throughout the district, including 
the District Infirmary, the Baths, and the Victoria 
Market, are monuments of his skill. From the erection 
of a substantial cotton mill to the restoration of a stately 
cathedral, scarcely any class of constructive work was 
left untouched. As a youth he showed marked signs 
of practical and methodical gifts, being for several years 
honorary librarian to the Mechanics' Institution of that 
day. At a later stage he filled the position of tutor 
to the elementary and technical classes attached to that 
place, and ever continued his connection, having been 
a vice-president for many years at the time of his death. 
His services to the town were numerous and varied. 
In 1872 he was elected to the Council Chamber as a 
representative for Dukinfield Ward, and in the same year 
he was elected a member of the Board of Guardians, 


of which body he was Chairman in 1885. In 1874 his 
name was placed on the Commission of the Peace for 
the Borough, and a few years later he became a magis- 
trate for the County of Chester. Mr. Storrs was a 
Churchman of broad views, and a trustee for some of 
the property connected with St. Paul's, Stayley. 

In addition to his contracting business he had large 
financial interests in the firm of " John Wagstaffe and 
Co.," of which he was chairman. He was also chairman 
of the Tame Valley Thread Mills, Ltd., a director of 
Albion Mills, and chairman of the " Red R. Steamship 
Company, Newcastle," one of whose boats was named, 
in compliment to him, the '' William Storrs." 

In physique Mr. Storrs was one of the finest men in this 
vicinity, and being gifted with a constitution hardened 
and developed by practical training in early manhood, 
it was therefore a surprise that he should pass away at 
the very period of his life when his valuable experience 
and advice would have been so useful to his fellow towns- 
people. Mr. Storrs was supposed to have contracted 
lead poisoning, and he died at Southport, 3rd June, 
1894, his remains being conveyed to St. Paul's Church- 
yard, Stayley, where they were reverently interred. 


Thomas Wainwright was one of three sons of 
Benjamin Wainwright, a pioneer of the engineering 
and millwright business in the Manchester district. 
So far back as the year 18 18 we find the name in the 
local Directory, of Benjamin Wainwright, Millwright, 


Rassbottom. It would appear that in consequence of 
the growth of his business the elder Wainwright migrated 
to the Cheshire side of the town, and installed himself 
in the premises now considerably enlarged and carried 
on by the existing firm. After the death of Benjamin 
Wainwright the responsibility fell upon the shoulders 
of our subject, who, by his activity, forethought, and 
strict attention to business, built up the reputation 
possessed by himself and his successors. 

Essentially a business man he had little time for 
politics. He had an intense fondness for his connection 
with Freemasonry, of which ancient fraternity he was 
a devout craftsman. His sympathies were with the 
co-operative movement, and he was also a very earnest 
supporter and worker in the early days of the Mechanics' 

In the year 1895 Mr. Wainwright was appointed a 
member of the Borough Bench of Magistrates, and 
attended his duties faithfully and consistently to the 
end. A few years before his death, when nearly eighty 
years of age, he was accidentally thrown out of his trap, 
and the effects of that mishap left irreparable traces 
behind. Although he had passed the '' time limit," his 
interest in his business was undiminished, and even on 
the day of his death he spent several hours at the 
Commercial Iron Works. Mr. Wainwright died at his 
residence in Stocks Lane, on the 7th October 1901, at the 
age of 83 years. A man of strong personality and marked 
character, he is still remembered by many of his fellow 
townsmen as a pattern and example worthy of imitation. 



Robert Broadbent was a native of this district, 
and was born about the year 1812. His early 
days and training were doubtless similar to those 
of his contemporaries, when a universal knowledge 
and a practical application supplied the place of the 
mechanical aids in use to-da}/. At that period machine 
shops were few in number and scattered in their location. 

Robert Broadbent as a young man was the friend 
and fellow workman of Mr. Jamieson, afterwards known 
as a successful machinist and loom maker in this 
neighbourhood. During the development and per- 
fection of the first steam hammer, at Messrs. Nasmyth's 
Ironworks, Patricroft, near Manchester, Broadbent and 
Jamieson worked side by side, journeying on foot each 
week-end to and from their respective homes. About 
1838 Mr. Broadbent commenced business on his own 
account in a portion of the " Old Greasy Mill," Old 
Street, Stalybridge, whilst in 1848 his address is given 
as " Castle Hall Saw Mills," where he suffered, in con- 
junction with other tenants, by a disastrous fire. 
Subsequently, Mr. Broadbent established himself in 
the premises known as Phoenix Iron Works, where the 
firm still flourishes, and from whence their powerful 
machines are despatched to all parts of the world. 
Robert Broadbent, Esq., was a Justice of the Peace 
for the Borough, and reached the advanced age of 84 
years. He died January 31st, 1896, and his remains 
were interred at St. George's Church, Cocker Hill, 



The well-known local firm of textile machinists, 
Messrs. Taylor, Lang and Co., was established in 
the year 1852, and from a very small beginning the 
progress made has been most marked, whilst it cannot be 
denied that to-day their name and fame as reliable 
makers of cotton spinning and other machinery are 
known not only in the great commercial centres of this 
country, but also far beyond the confines of the British 

From a reliable authority we learn that many of those 
who afterwards became the founders of the firm, were 
connected as early as, if not prior to, 1850, with a 
co-operative store in Oldham, which only opened its 
doors after ordinary working hours, and where several of 
the more energetic members served behind the counter. 
It was there, amongst its members, whilst measuring, 
and weighing out the groceries, that the idea took root 
that if they could buy and sell groceries, they might 
have a try at buying iron and making and selling 
machines. This was the state of affairs when, on the 
loth of January, 1852, there commenced what was known 
as " The Great Lock-out," which involved in its meshes 
the artisan iron workers and machinists of the Oldham 
and Manchester districts, resulting in many skilled 
operatives being thrown out of permanent employment, 
amongst the number being the future members of our 
local firm. 

The idea conceived in the afore -mentioned Store now 
materialised, and resulted in the co-operation of 23 


individuals, which " appears to have been a spontaneous 
outcome of the community of interests and determined 
self-reliance." Each member was well known to be 
efficient as a tradesman ; in fact, the majority had held 
positions as foremen, and have been classified as follows : 
Books (Pattern maker) — James Taylor ; Iron turners- 
John Storrs, Samuel Booth, Henry England, Wilham 
C. Birch, Thomas Cheetham ; Fitters— Andrew Birchall, 
William Lees, Thomas Rhodes, Martin Scragg, Charles 
Rothwell, John Lang, James Byrom, Joseph Walter 
Watts, James Uttley, Joseph Rushton ; Joiners- 
James Whitehead, James Sutcliffe, Thomas Watson, 
Jacob Marshall ; Moulders— Thomas Armitage, Samuel 
Mitchell ; Grinder— Joseph Woolhouse. When they had 
organised themselves, a suitable town was sought wherein 
to establish the business, and after several places had 
been visited, Stalybridge was selected. Many risks and 
dangers lay before them, but the working-men masters 
appear to have had the fullest confidence in each other, 
and trusting to their united abilities and experience, 
they launched their enterprise on its course. 

The new firm was known locally as " The Amal- 
gamated shop," and was established in April or May, 
1852, '' with a capital of £600." With the avowed 
intention of succeeding, it was mutually agreed that 
each of the masters should receive as wages the sum of 
15s. per week until they had obtained a firm footing 
and become established. This resolution meant a great 
sacrifice for skilled mechanics, who had been hitherto 
earning from 30s. to 50s. per week, and again, at this 


very time each might have been in receipt of lock-out 
pay, varying from los. to 20s. per week. From its 
inception the firm made steady headway, in the face of 
stern and determined opposition, and the traditions of 
these early years are valuable and interesting. One 
incident is recorded in print, as under : — " A short period 
after the firm had commenced work the owner of the 
premises, seeing a light burning, visited the works and 
found one of the masters hard at labour, and at an 
hour, too, long after every engine had been stopped and 
every workshop in the town was closed." 

Certain of our local cotton masters became alive to 
the merits of the new firm, and rendered assistance and 
encouragement in various ways, whilst to the credit of 
one gentleman it is recorded that he allowed his name 
to be used as surety on the purchase of a valuable 
piece of machinery which the new firm urgently needed. 
At the termination of a period of seven years from its 
formation, a re-organisation of the firm took place 
(1859) 3.nd seven of the original members withdrew 
their interests, viz. : James Sutcliffe, Thomas Watson, 
Martin Scragg, James Uttley, Thomas Cheetham, 
Charles Rothwell, and Jacob Marshall ; Samuel Mitchell 
had died prior to this time. 

There is in existence a printed statement, published 
nearly forty years ago, which says : — •" That upon the 
withdrawal and re-organisation referred to, the firm 
was worth in machinery, stock and working capital, 
a sum which w^ould probably reach £30,000." Many 
of the originators lived to see their scheme attain 


dimensions never anticipated. The last survivor of the 
original twenty- three masters, Mr. Martin Scragg, died 
at Romiley dming the present year (1907). 


The foremost of our local mechanicians and inventors, 
Mr. Edward Buckley, late of the firm of Messrs. 
Taylor, Lang and Co., is well worthy of notice in this 
volume. He was the son of Mr. Radcliffe Buckley, 
blacksmith, who in the early part of last century carried 
on business at the old smithy in Quarry Street, 

Edward Buckley was born in Brierley Street, Castle 
Hall, on the 13th April, 1838. He attended a day school 
conducted by Mr. Thomas Avison in the " People's 
School," Brierley Street. As a lad, on completing what 
was considered a suitable education, he went first as a 
grocer's assistant, but was afterwards apprenticed to 
the trade of wheelwright, with Mr. James Oldfield, 
who had a workshop at the corner of Huddersfield Road 
and Mottram Road, the site now being covered by a 
number of shops. Not finding sufficient scope for his 
ingenuity, which was a hereditary trait in the Buckley 
family, our subject left the service of Mr Oldfield, and 
went to work at Messrs. Broadbent's, Machinists, etc. 
Here he remained until he became efficient as a mechanic, 
and for a time worked as a journeyman. A new firm 
of machinists being formed, with a workshop situated in 
Dukinfield, Mr. Buckley left Messrs. Broadbent's, and 
entered their employment, on the understanding that 


he was to be ultimately a partner. 

The venture does not appear to have been a monetary 
success, and the firm's existence was of short duration. 
The cause of its dissolution is not known to the writer. 
Mr. Buckley now obtained employment at Messrs. Taylor, 
Lang and Co., Castle Iron Works, who at that time 
made " carding engines." 

Upon the firm's discontinuance of this branch of 
machine making, Mr. Buckley went into the " scutcher " 
department, under the superintendence of Mr. Thomas 
Rhodes, whom he subsequently succeeded as the head 
of the department. His wonderful inventive faculties 
had full play on the machinery which passed through his 
hands. The result was a series of improvements and 
labour-saving combinations, which have been a source of 
great profit to the firm, and also to cotton manufacturers 
in many parts of the world. As a result of his energies 
and growing financial interest in the firm, he was elected 
to a seat on the directorate in 1872, and from that time 
up to the termination of his career proved a worthy, 
reliable, and diligent guardian of the interests of the 

In manner he was somewhat reserved and quiet ; 
in his dealings straight, and perhaps blunt. Having 
known himself the difficulties which face the aspiring 
working man, he needed no intimation to enlighten 
him as to the qualities of those who came beneath his 
supervision. Although his success had enriched him in 
a worldly sense, it made little difference in his bearing 
and domestic surroundings ; pride and show were 


strangers to his composition. His wife pre- deceased 
him, and from the time of her death a great change 
was perceptible in Mr. Buckley. He died at his 
residence on Cocker Hill, on the 15th May, 1894, in his 
56th year, and was interred at St. Paul's Church. 

A Conservative in politics, he attained the position 
of Town Councillor, and died during his term of office, 
respected and regretted by all who knew him. 


John Lees— Thornton Ousey— Joseph Wild— William Nolan 
— Buckley Ousey — Samuel Maden. 

"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever." 


JTOHN LEES was the son of Edward Lees, a woollen 
J manufacturer, of Hazlehurst, near Hartshead, 
where the family had been settled for many generations, 
but came to reside at Rassbottom about the year 1788, 
and there, on the 6th January, 1790, John Lees was 
born. At a very early age he worked in the cotton mill, 
and as a youth was employed by Mr. James Bayley as 
a hand spinner, becoming a few years later the manager 
of a small mill near Glossop. Being ambitious, and also 
of an artistic turn, he quitted the mill and found employ- 
ment as a painter and decorator, working at the renova- 
tion of the Old Hall, Ashton-under-Lvne. 


A well-known London artist named Mr. Parry was 
at this period engaged upon a number of commissions 
in Stalybridge, including several of the Vaudrey por- 
traits which were hung in the Jubilee Exhibition. 
John Lees was a pupil of Mr. Parry, and became pro- 
ficient as a portrait painter. Some of his work, toned 
and mellowed by the lapse of time, is still in the possession 
of the family, and is full and sufficient proof of the 
artist's wonderful abilities. 

About 1821 Mr. Lees commenced business as a 
chemist and druggist, and in after years built the 
substantial premises in Market Street, which have been 
so long connected with the name of Lees ; the ceiling 
of the shop he occupied was at one period a perfect work 
of art, being painted with extreme care and taste, as 
a decoration. The work is still remembered, and, 
according to report, must have taken a great length 
of time in execution, as Mr. Lees, whilst painting, would 
have to lie upon his back, supported by a temporary 

A fine specimen of the work ot Mr. Lees, " A View 
of Old Stalybridge," was presented to the Stalybridge 
Corporation by the late Mr. William Chadwick, with a 
wish that it should be placed in the Astley-Cheetham 
Free Library. It now, however, hangs in the Town Hall. 

Mr. Lees attained the advanced age of 85 years, and 
died at his residence in Market Street, Stalybridge, on 
April 19th, 1875. His remains were interred in the 
ancient burial ground attached to Mottram Church. 



Thornton Ousey was a member of a very old 
Stalybridge family, and was born about the year 
1810. As a 3/outh he was apprenticed to the trade of 
house painting and decorating, but a taste for art being 
a natural gift, he became proficient as an artist, and 
judging by the specimens of his work which are still 
to be seen, his talents were of no mean order. In the 
year 1848, we find that he was in business in Stalybridge 
as a painter, carver, and gilder, and was known also 
as an artist. There is little to be gleaned from the printed 
records of the district which can throw any light upon 
his early days. 

A fine specimen of his work was offered by Alderman 
Fentem on the occasion of the opening of the Jubilee 
Exhibition, May 4th, 1907, towards the formation of 
a permanent Art Gallery in the Astley-Cheetham 
Library. Thornton Ousey died on the 7th September, 
1864, aged 54 years, and was interred at St. George's 
Church, Cocker Hill, Stalybridge. 


Joseph Wild was a native of Stalybridge, and as 
a youth served his apprenticeship to the business 
of hairdresser with his elder brother William Wild, 
near the Iron Bridge. In early life he developed a 
taste for drawing and painting, which was encouraged, 
and a course of lessons under a prominent Manchester 
artist followed. Mr. Wild was also a musician, being 
able to play on the violin, and, further, he made a violin 


for himself which is still in existence. The choice of 
subjects dealt with by him as an artist were of the 
widest range, viz. :— portraits, still life, landscape, 
flowers, and fruit, in which last branch he was extremely 
successful. As his artistic powers became known, he 
gave up his business of hairdressing and devoted 
himself wholly to painting. About the year 1872 Mr. 
Wild visited the United States of America, where he 
sold a great many of his pictures, and where he also 
received numerous commissions ; the climate proved 
unsuitable, and he returned to this country. In manner 
he was refined, and perhaps reserved, and as a com- 
panion and friend was ever welcome. He was a regular 
exhibitor at the Royal Institution, Manchester, and 
amongst his large circle of acquaintances he numbered 
Thomas Crozier, of Manchester, John Coulton, Ben 
Garside, Joseph Slater, Basil Bradley, and many well- 
known artists of the time. A large number of the 
pictures hung in the Jubilee Exhibition were from his 
brush, including the portrait of Jethro Tinker, which 
the artist painted and presented to the Stamford Park 
Museum more than thirty years ago. Joseph Wild 
died at his residence in Market Street, on the 9th March, 
1876, in his 51st year, and was interred at St. Paul's 
Church, Stayley. 

WilHam Nolan was a cotton operative, and was 
employed for the greater part of his life at Messrs. 
Leech's, Grosvenor Street Mills, Stalybridge. Being 


of an artistic bent he commenced to draw and paint 
during his leisure hours, and also dabbled in photo- 
graphy during the days of the wet-plate system. He 
was remarkable as being the only pupil of the late Ben 
Garside, a local artist of talent, two of whose pictures, 
the portrait of Charles Hindley, Esq., M.P., and " King 
Charles I.," hang in the Ashton-under-Lyne Town Hall, 
William Nolan painted the portrait of " The Old Post- 
man," exhibited in the Jubilee Exhibition of 1907, and 
also an ambitious copy of " The Last Sleep of Argyle," 
the original of which hangs in Peel Park Art Gallery, 
Salford. He could never be induced to give advice or 
undertake the instruction of pupils. Contemporary 
with Joseph Slater, of Ashton, and other local artists, 
he for many years resided in Cross Leech Street, Staly- 
bridge, where he passed away on the 17th April, 1888, 
at the comparatively early age of 46. 

By a strange coincidence his remains were interred 
by the side of his old friend and tutor, Ben Garside, on 
the lower slope of the Dukinfield Cemetery. 


Buckley Ousey was born in Castle Street, Stalybridge, 
in the year 185 1, his father, who died a few weeks 
before our subject came into the world, being 
a clerk at Castle Street Mills. Whilst the future 
artist was a child, his mother also passed away, and the 
lad was from that time resident with his aunt, Mrs. 
Whitehead, in King Street. 

He commenced work early at the mills of Albert Hall, 



Esq., and remained there up to their closing, when he 
found employment at the North End Mills, using his 
spare time in sketching, drawing, and painting. His 
artistic career was a continued struggle against adverse 
circumstances, until within a short period of his death. 
On one occasion a number of local gentlemen sent him 
to North Wales to paint, and later still a Bolton admirer 
undertook to assist him, sending him to Antwerp, where 
he pursued a course of study. Then it was that success 
at last appeared certain, and his work began to find 
ready purchasers ; commissions poured in, but another 
fact asserted itself, for it became apparent that a fatal 
disease existed in his frame. At the tim.e of his death, 
4th February, 1889, he had unexecuted commissions 
which would have yielded a large sum of money. He 
left a widow and eight children. In ^larch, 1890, an 
exhibition of paintings, etc., chiefly by Mr. Ousey, for 
the benefit of his widow and family, was opened by the 
then Mayor, Alderman J. Ridyard, in the Stalybridge 
Town Hall, which realised a very acceptable sum. 

Buckley Ousey was buried at Conway, North Wales, 
and was followed to his last resting place by a large 
number of his brother members of the Royal Cambrian 
Academy of Water Colour Artists. 


Samuel Maden is well remembered as a portrait 
painter, many specimens of his work being cher- 
ished in this town as family heir-looms. For several 
years he resided in Wakefield Road, Stalybridge, 


and was more successful in his portraiture than the 
generaUty of artists are. Being of a genial and com- 
municative disposition, he was well-known in various 
local circles, where his presence was ever a welcome 
addition. Essentially a self-educated man, by study 
and perseverance he had achieved a position as an 
artist, and often executed commissions for patrons in 
various parts of the country. 

Several creditable duplicate portraits of noted states- 
men and party leaders adorn the walls of our local clubs 
and institutions, and are evidence of his deft and 
skilful brush. Samuel Maden died on the 2nd November, 
1894, aged 65 years. 



James Baxter, the ingenious blacksmith —Joseph Heap, the 
llage constable— Edward Godley — Joseph Hall— George Newton 
—The Smith Brothers — Samuel Hurst— William Hague, " I'lind 

Two local Athletes : — George Adam Eayley and Alfred Summers. 

•■ It matters not what men as5^ume to be, or jjood, or Inui ; 
they are but what they are." 

I'hilip J. Ihuley. 


The Ingenious Blacksmith. 

IN the Manchester Gazette, of March 5th, 1796, 
there appeared a whimsical article, written in the 
Lancashire dialect, by Robert Walker, of Audenshaw, 


known to readers of dialect work as " Tim Bobbin the 
Second," entitled " Enoch Disgraced." 

The story relates to a Stalybridge blacksmith who 
had invented a machine which was to assist him in his 
work, and supply the place of a striker. The appliance 
was fixed behind the anvil, with a treadle attached, 
for the smith to put his foot upon when he needed the 
assistance of his one-armed striker. Having made all 
the necessary preparations, the heated iron was draw^n 
from the fire and placed on the anvil, and the blacksmith, 
in bending over his work, accidentally placed his foot 
upon the treadle, when the obedient striker instantly 
knocked him down to the ground. 

The story was printed in a book published by Walker 
in 1811, and is illustrated by a quaint copper plate 
engraving. The invention was the forerunner of the 
machine known as the " Oliver," of which there were 
formerly a number in use in the once noted Stalybridge 
industry of bolt making. 

The identical son of Vulcan was James Baxter, 
w^hose smithy was situated in Hyde's Fold, and in the 
little village forge the principal part of the iron work 
used in the lock gates of the canal which passes through 
the Valley was made. 

Just inside the higher gate of the burial ground on 
Cocker Hill there is a flat tombstone, the inscription 
upon which is almost obliterated. Many years ago the 
writer copied it w^hilst it was still readable. It was as 
foUow^s : — 


" Here was interred the body of James Baxter, 
Whitesmith, of- Stalybridge, who died i8th 
November, 1823, aged 60. 

" My sledge and hammer He redined, 
My bellows, too, have lost their wind ; 
My fire 's extinct, my forge decayed, 
And in the dust my vice is laid ; 
My fuel 's spent, my irons gone — 
My nails are drove — my work is done." 


Joseph Heap was a well-known character in the 
village about the year 1820. He held the position 
of Village Constable, was one of the first auctioneers, 
and was also the landlord of what was known as " Heap's 
Vaults," but which has been for several generations 
past, and is still known as, " The White House," At 
the period when Heap was the official representative of 
the law, there did not exist any place where he could 
'* lock up " his prisoners, when he had any. On such 
occasions the constable had to take his charges to 
Ashton-under-Lyne, where they were lodged in the 
garret of a building in Cricket's Lane, known as the 
" Star Chamber," until they were accommodated with 
other quarters at Lancaster Gaol. 

Joseph Heap was the father of James and Henry 
Heap, and grandfather of the well-known auctioneer 
of our own time the late Mr. Robert Heap, of Cocker 



Edward Godley, or Ned Godley as he was called 
by the people of the localit}^ was born at Alt, near 
Hartshead, on the ist May, 1772, and according 
to his own words was " a gradely mayflower." 
His parents came to reside at Souracre Fold, and from 
that time to his death he was connected with the 
district in one way or other. As a lad he became expert 
as a huntsman and angler, his services being requisitioned 
b}' the sporting gentlemen of the neighbourhood. By 
trade Godley was a hatter, but the fascination of the 
rod and gun interfered with his calling. His skill, 
knowledge, and ability, together with his sound judg- 
ment and quaint personality, earned for him the 
patronage and support of the local sportsmen. The 
services of J. Percy, R.A., were requisitioned, and the 
veteran angler has been handed down to posterity in 
portraiture, one example being shown at the recent 
Jubilee Exhibition. Ned Godley died at Heyrod, 8th 
March, 1859, aged 86, and was interred at St. George's 
Church, Cocker Hill. 


Joseph Hall, or ** Owd Joe Hall," was born in 1787, 
and lived to the advanced age of 77, having been for 
nearly three-score years connected with the Stayley 
Hunt. In his later years he resided at the New Inn, 
Old Street, where he died on the 8th Januar}^ 1864, and 
whence, a few days later, his body was borne to Cocker 
Hill Churchyard, attended by upwards of a hundred 


devout followers of the chase, many of them dressed in 
their well-worn livery, and attended by their faithful 
hounds. The incident furnished material for a well- 
known Lancashire sketch, entitled " The Huntsman's 
Funeral," by Ben Brierley. 


This noted huntsman, who was born in 1777, lived to 
the great age of 94 years, and as a proof of his physical 
powers, it is recorded that at the age of 81 he walked 
from Stalybridge to Holmfirth, in order to attend the 
funeral of a brother Nimrod. In the eve of his life a 
number of real friends arranged for a weekly allowance to 
the old man, who, however, did not require it very long. 
He died on the 7th August, 1871, and was interred at 
Mottram Church, w^here a tombstone is inscribed to his 

THE SMrrn brothers. 

The following is a record connected with a Stalybridge 

family, four brothers of whom enlisted and saw service. 

Henry Smith, born 1784, enlisted at the age of 18, 

1802, in the nth Dragoons, lost one of his arms in action, 
and returned to Stalybridge in 18 14. 

John Smith, born 1785, enlisted at the age of 18, 

1803, in the 48th Regiment. Fought in Egypt under 
the Iron Duke, and from the effect of the desert marches 
became totally blind. Returned home with a pension. 

William Smith, born 1787, enlisted at the age of 18, 
1805, in the 23rd Welsh Fusiliers. Lost one of his legs 
in action. Returned home with a pension. 


George Smith, born 1795, enlisted at the age of 18, 
1813, in the Royal Marines, Plymouth Division. On 
the reduction of the forces which followed the fall of 
Napoleon I., he was discharged, and returned to Staly- 
bridge without a pension. On the 20th of June, 1871, 
at the Old Folks' Tea Party, by request of the Mayor, 
John Hyde, Esq., George Smith, then in his 76th year, 
entertained the gathering with a song. 


Samuel Hurst, known throughout the sporting world 
as " The Stalybridge Infant," was a native of Marsden, 
near Huddersfield, and came to Stalybridge when a 
youth. He was engaged as a labourer for some years 
amongst the stone-wallers and masons of the district, 
but eventually obtained work as a striker for the black- 
smiths at a local machine shop. At this period the 
town was noted for its sporting men, and supporters 
of the prize ring in particular, and produced from 
amongst its sons several creditable wrestlers, runners, 
and jumpers. Hurst became associated with the 
sporting fraternity, and occasionally had a wrestling 
bout with some local favourite, when suggestions were 
made as to his prowess as a pugilist. Exceptionally 
well built, he stood six feet one-and-a-half inches in 
height, and when in condition weighed fourteen-and-a- 
half stones ; hence the name of " The Infant." 

His first appearance as a prize fighter occurred shortly 
after the great fight between Sayers and Heenan for the 
Championship of England, which ended in a drawn 


battle, and Hurst was urged to challenge Heenan, money 
being readily found in Stalybridge for the support of 
its favourite. The challenge was ignored by Heenan 
on the ground that Hurst was a novice, as he had then 
never fought a battle. 

The deposit money was sent to the ofhce of " Bell's 
Life," where it remained until Tom Paddock challenged 
Sam Hurst to fight for the sum of £200 and the " Belt." 

The fight took place on the 6th November, i860. 
Hurst being victorious became the Champion of 
England, and returned to Stalybridge with the trophy, 
which was exhibited and much admired by his friends 
and supporters. 

From the account of the combat we cull the following : 

" One man entered the arena for the first time, whilst 
the other had not merely competed against all the 
notabilities of the present age, but had fought a bygone 

About a week after his return. Hurst, whilst staying 
at the Fleece Inn, Market Street, fell on the steps leading 
into the backyard and broke his leg. Whilst lying in 
bed he received a challenge from Jem Mace, and was 
matched to fight the noted pugilist within six months 
of the 19th of November. Hurst left Stalybridge with 
a limb not properly set, and was beaten by Jem Mace 
after a fight which lasted about forty minutes. 

Samuel Hurst at one period was the landlord of a 
public house in Manchester. He died on the 22nd May, 
1882, aged 50, and was interred at Phillips Park 
Cemetery, Bradford-cum-Beswick, Manchester. 



One of the noted characters of the town twenty years 
ago was the blind itinerant street preacher, known only 
to the majority of the inhabitants as " Blind Billy." 

A tall gaunt figure, with a lurching gait, a stick in 
his right hand, with which he occasionally felt for the 
curb stone, and a wicker basket hanging upon his left 
arm, this humble disciple of Christ tramped unaccom- 
panied about the streets and roads of this and the 
surrounding districts. Although blind, he possessed a 
wonderful knowledge of the local topography, the extent 
of his wanderings including Ardwick, Oldham, Saddle- 
worth, Stockport and Glossop. In each of these districts 
it has been the lot of the writer to see him preaching, 
and it was pathetic to watch him threading his course 
along the streets, as he methodically paused, his lips 
moving whilst he counted to himself his paces, and then 
he would turn completely round ere proceeding on his 

The following kindly appreciation, written at this 
date, is more lasting than a wreath of immortelles : — . 

" William Hague was often mocked and jeered at as 
he preached the Gospel in the back streets of Staly- 
bridge, but of this fact we may all be certain, that he 
now occupies in Heaven a place nearer to the Throne 
than the majority of men of his or any other day. May 
God send to this district a few more " Blind Billy's," — 
it needs them sadl}'." 

Blind Billy passed away on the 12th April, 1888, 
at the age of 48 years, and his remains rest beneath an 


unlettered mound in St. Paul's Church-yard, Stayley. 
He was one of those who truly did his best. 

Many years ago the writer penned the following 
" Bit o' Foirewood," which refers to our present subject : 

"Did yo' know poor Blind Billy? he's dead an' gone neaw ; 

He 's gone wheer they need noather silver nor gowd — 
Aw remember him weel, an' revere him chuseheaw ; 

An' aw '11 tak' off my hat to ih' poor brid 'ut lies cowd. 
We 'd use 'i stond an' plague him, — we didn't know then, 

As he poured forth his sarmons at th' corner o' th' streets, 
Delivering his unheeded message to men, 

I'th' roughest o' weathers, an' th' darkest o' neets. 
Owd Billy 's gone whom', ther 's no deaubt abeaut that, 

He's gone to that land 'at he talked on so oft; 
He 's swapped his owd basket, his slick, an' his hat. 

For a beautiful robe — 'ut he's wearin' aloft. 
Billy sowed some good seed, may he see heaw it grows 

For he isn't blind neaw ! far beyond the blue sky — 
Ther's summat com'd tricklin' deawn th' side o' my nose, 

' Yo' never know what yo' can do — till yo' try.' " 


Foremost amongst the amateur athletes of his 
generation was George Adam Bayley, one of the 
younger sons of William Bayley, Esq., of Stamford 
Lodge, Stalybridge. 

Adam Bayley, as he was called by his fellow-towns- 
men, was noted as a swimmer, wrestler, runner, and 
jumper, whom our veteran sportsmen are never weary 
of eulogizing, not without reason, as the following 
record of a single day's achievements will testify : — 

At a great Athletic Festival held in Manchester, 
29th July, 1865, open to all comers, Mr. Bayley 's 
record is as follows : — Cleared the bar at 9 feet 9 inches 


in the pole-jump ; Threw the cricket ball a distance of 
105 yards ; Covered a distance of 18 feet 5I inches in 
the long jump ; Cleared at a stand jump 9 feet 
9 inches ; and won the 220 yards hurdle race easily. 

For his wonderful feats that day he was awarded a 
silver medal for pole-jumping, silver medal for long 
jumping, and gold medal for running and jumping. 

Contemporary with Mr. Bayley were the late Thomas 
Bazley Hall, Basil Hall, and the now veteran athletes, 
Gracchus Hall, Esq. and Alderman Fentem. 

George Adam Bayley died at the early age of 31 
years, 19th April, 1876, and was interred in the family 
tomb at Dukinfield Old Chapel. 


Alfred Summers, the fourth son of John Summers, 
Esq., ironmaster, was born at Stalybridge, and as a 
youth became noted as a very fast runner, and also as 
a jumper. From the numerous records of his achieve- 
ments the following have been selected : — 

At the Stalybridge Amateur Athletic Festival, on the 
Cricket Ground, Cheetham Hill Road, July 17, 1880, 
when over 300 athletes, including all the principal cham- 
pions o. the time, competed, Mr. Summers won the no 
yards Flat Race, covering the distance in 12 seconds ; 
also the 120 yards Flat Race. On this occasion he won 
£13 in cash, which he generously handed over to the 
Club Committee, who purchased cricketing tackle with 
it. In June, t88i, Mr. Summers defeated W. A. Dawson, 
Esq. (of Cambridge University) at Huddersfield, and 


about a week later, at Widnes, he beat the well-known 
athlete, Davm of Carrick-on-Suir, at the long jump, 
covering the capital distance of 22 feet 10 inches. 

Tall, strong, and broad-shouldered, he was an 
excellent type of the " clean-built " Englishman, and 
like his predecessor, Adam Bayley, he was good at any 
game he touched. In Rugby football he promised at 
one time to make a great name for himself as a 
''three-quarter," in which position his strength, speed, 
and pluck made him a dangerous opponent. Serious 
injuries, however, compelled him to retire from the 
football field. 

Amiable and kindly in disposition, Mr. Summers was 
very popular in the district, and his tragic death on 
the line near Stalybridge Railway Station, on October 
28, 1887, at the early age of 26 years, is still vividly 
remembered, and most bitterly regretted by those who 
knew him. His remains rest in the family vault at 
St. John's Church, Dukinfield. 


John Jones — Thomas Kenworthy — George Smith — Rev. 
Joseph Rayner Stephens— Wilham Chad wick — Samuel Laycock, 

" The feeling of veneration implanted in the poet's breast makes him cling 
to the past, even in decay ... he is the ivy of animated nature." 

Richard Wright Procter. 


OHN JONES was born at Llanasa, North Wales, on 
the 14th February, 1788, and during his boyhood 



and youth worked in a cotton mill at Holywell, which was 
under the management of George Piatt of this town. x\t 
the age of eighteen Jones entered the Royal Navy, and 
was present at the Battle of the Nile, being, on the 
termination of hostilities, along with many other 
seamen, paid off and dismissed the service. About 1820 
he came and settled in Stalybridge, obtaining employ- 
ment at Messrs. Platts, and was henceforth connected 
with the town. He published three volumes of poems, 
the last being dated 1856, his principal item being 
" The Sovereign." 

The following lines are typical of Jones's style, being 
written as a memento of the arrival and inauguration 
of the peal of bells at Holy Trinity Church. 


Hail, Stalybridge ! since new delights are thine, 

No longer bow to Ashton-under-Lyne ; 

For thou canst, now, without presumptuous glee, 

Boast of harmonious bells as well as she. 

Now list attentive to the joyful sounds. 

Such as before ne'er charm'd these humble bounds , 

On wings aerial, let them ride abroad 

Till heard at Staley and at Mottram Road. 

The Hydes, the Hollins, and old Currier Lane, 

Now hear, astonish'd, their melodious strain. 

Ring on, ye merry set ! ring on, ring on, 

Loud as Bow Bells that spoke to Whittington ; 

The nobler sons of industry are here, 

Them let your sweet congratulations cheer. 

\Vound no soft breast with future mourning peals, 

But kindly spare the wddow'd heart that feels. 

Ring not to hail victorious sons of Mars, 

But let oblivion veil them and their wars. 

Commemorate no sanguine Waterloo, 

But, with its victor, hide it from our view. 

Let married couples, as the church they leave, 

A joyous, loud, and merry peal receive. 


Let the bless'd birthday of our Saviour be 
'Bove all distinguished by your boundless glee, 
Resound till angels, once, o'er Bethlehem's plain, 
From their celestial seats descend again ; 
And list to human strains, as earthly beings 
Have done to heavenly in remoter scenes. 

His latter years were somewhat shadowed by penury, 
and he died at his cottage in Oxford Street, Stocks 
Lane, on June 19th, 1858, when by requisition, he was 
given a pubUc funeral. His remains, reverently followed 
by nearly a hundred of his admirers and friends, were 
deposited in the burial ground behind Grosvenor Square 
Chapel, in the front of which edifice a neat tablet may 
be seen, commemorating his talents. 


Thomas Kenworthy, The Rhymester, was born in 
Old Street, Stalybridge, on the 9th February, 1790. 
He was the son of Thomas Kenworthy, a mill manager, 
and being one of a numerous family, was put to work 
in the cotton mill at a very early age. From little- 
piecer, he passed through various degrees until he 
became a spinning master and responsible overlooker. 

The friend and contemporary of George Smith, J. C. 
Prince, John Jones, and other local literary celebrities, 
he contributed to the magazines and newspapers of his 
time, his forte being local song and lyrical rhymes, and 
his most popular production was " The Old Iron Well." 
The subject of this song was a spring well noted for its 
clear and crystal water, which was said to possess some 
peculiar medicinal properties derived from the minerals 
in its vicinity. Some of our aged townspeople still sing 


the old song to the melody of " The Mistletoe Bough." 

A soldier Eve been, and Eve fought in the wars ; 
For my country Lve bled, you may see by my scars ; 
But now Em returned to the land of my birth, 
'Tis to me the most beautiful spot upon earth. 

Oh ! the old iron well - oh ! the old iron well. 

My cot lonely stands on the banks of the Tame, 
At the foot of yon' Lodge, that was once held in fame — 
'Mid scenes quite romantic, where wild flowers smell, 
There's the roar of the weir— there's the old iron well. 
Oh ! the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well. 

In spring I rise early : 'twas always my pride, 
With my rod and my line to stand whipping the tide ; 
In deep shming waters where speckled trout dwell. 
On my own native sod, near the old iron well. 

Oh I the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well. 

Dear haunts of my childhood, I hail you with joy, 
As down on your flower spangled meadows I lie ; 
I can roam at my ease through each dingle and dell. 
Then return to my cot near the old iron well. 

Oh ! the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well. 

My country I love thee, wherever I roam ! 

For I find it through life, " There's no place like home," 

Home clings to the heart like some magical spell. 

Oh ! 'tis fairyland all round the old iron well. 

Oh ! the old iron well— oh ! the old iron well. 

The music of waters — adown the vast steep — 
On my senses fall sweetly, they lull me to sleep ; 
I can rise by the lark — not the clink of the bell. 
And for tea- water trudge to the old iron well. 

Oh ! the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well. 

But sickness steals o'er me, and soon I must die ; 
Deep down in yon'd old chapel-yard let me lie ; 
There — drink, smoke tobacco, and old stories tell 
Of honest old Jack — of the old iron well. 

Oh ! the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well. 

Kenworthy's poems and songs would fill a small 
volume if printed collectively, and as a compliment to 


his talent, on the 30th November, 1865, a " Grand 
Musical and Literary Entertainment " was given in 
the Stalybridge Mechanics' Institution, in which the 
following took part : — J. Critchley Prince, Ben Brierley, 
J. Burgess, E. Grimshaw, Irvine Dearnaley, J. Ingham, 
the Stalybridge Glee Union, Mr. Higham, and Miss 
Whitham. The effort benefited the poet to the amount 
of £30. Thomas Kenworthy died at Dukinfield, 20th 
April, 1869, aged 78 years,, and his remains lie in an 
unlettered grave in the Dukinfield Cemetery — ." And 
this is local fame." 


Born at Roughtown, near Mossley, on the 2nd of 
March, 1794, he came to work as a lad of tender years 
at the mills in Stalybridge, and was connected with the 
cotton industry of the vicinity for the greater part of 
his life. On attaining maturity he became a mill 
manager, utilising his leisure in literary pursuits and 

The following specimen of Mr. Smith's poetic com- 
position is to be found amongst the collection known as 
" Gems of Thought and Flowers of Fancy," published 
by Richard Wright Procter : — 


Child of the Lyre, 'tis hard of thee to sing 
When stern reverses bind thy soaring wing, 
Bind it to earth ; and yet there 's beauty there, 
Food for the mind, as delicate and rare 
. As poets need to banquet on : a store 
Thou may'st partake until the soul runs o'er. 



And yet 'tis sad for genius to behold 

The eyes of soulless men, all calm and cold, 

Pass o'er the beauties of his written thought, 

So feelingly, so musically wrought, 

Woven and interwoven with each change 

Of the blest seasons, in their varied range 

Of bud, and flower, and fruit of many hues 

Pendant above the fructifying dews : 

Of cloudless noon, of crimson sunset fair, 

Of twilight's hallowed hour of silent prayer ; 

When his serene, aspiring thoughts ascend 

From purest source of worship, thence to blend 

With all that 's beautiful in earth and skies, 

Shrined in his soul, and mirror'd in his eyes. 

Retard his dreamy flight, he back recoils 

To sordid earth's contaminating toils ; 

A space too narrow, his aspiring mind 

Would leap the clouds, and grapple with the wind, 

Mix with the rainbow, revel in the storm, 

And mould its power to every hue and form ; 

Would chase the moon athwart the night, 

And then, emerging from the dreamy hght 

Of clustering clouds, like snowdrifts tinged with gold, 

Still yearn new charms and wonders to behold ; 

Bathe in the fountains of celestial fire, 

And wake to louder voice the music of his lyre. 

Inspiring hope bursts into loftier song, 

More cheering, more exalting, and more strong 

In thought poetic or in pathos fine, 

Than e'er was breathed from lowly lyre of mine. 

How thrilling, throbbing, piercing, yet refined 

His boundless genius rushes like the wind 

Through mountain passes, deep, dark, lone, and wild. 

Then sinks to quiet like a weary child. 

Still in his soul a plaintive voice is heard, 

Ascending from the depths of hope deferred 

By the cold world's neglect, or scorntul look 

Of men who see no beauty in a book 

Of nature or of poet ; men who find 

More glory in their gold than all the realms of mind. 

Gloomy incentives to a soul imbued 

With all the poetry of gratitude. 

That spiritual music of his lyre 

Which, but for hope, in silence would expire, 

Now that lone harp, in many a bitter pang, 

Wails in its master's woe, where once it sweetly sang. 


For many years, as the editor of the " Shepherd's 
Magazine," he was intimately connected with the author 
of " Hours with the Muses," and to his credit was the 
best friend of the more sinned against than sinning, 
John Critchley Prince. Retiring from mill life, Mr. 
Smith in 1854 became landlord of the Commercial 
Inn, Melbourne Street, and during his residence was 
elected a Town Councillor. Failing health caused 
him to leave public business, and he died in Ashton- 
under-Lyne, December 26th, 1&60, his body being 
interred in the Old Chapel burial ground, Dukinfield. 

A Scotchman by birth, Joseph Rayner Stephens lirst 
saw the light in Edinburgh, on the 8th March, 1805, 
being the sixth child of John and Rebecca Stephens. 
As a youth he entered the Manchester Grammar School, 
and was a fellow student of William Harrison Ainsworth. 
Having completed his education he was ordained 
a Wesleyan Minister in 1829, but owing to his political 
and other beliefs he severed his connection with that 
religious body in 1834. 

The granite obelisk in Stamford Park perpetuates the 
memory of Mr. Stephens in a worthy manner, the 
inscription on the sides of the pedestal, in conjunction 
with the excellent bronze medallion portrait, being 
explanatory. The verse of the poem by Mr. Stephens 
there quoted prompts the insertion of the whole 
of it. 



Scatter the seed I the seed of truth, believing it will grow ; 
Look on the wilderness in ruth, it was not always so, 
A garden once, it may again, a lovely garden be ; 
It wants the sun, it wants the rain, of God-like charity. 

•Scatter the seed ! the wholesome seed, of knowledge manifold ; 
And time will deck the flowery mead, with blended white and gold. 
No leaf so green as knowledge flings, unfading o'er the mind ; 
No fruit so sweet as wisdom brings — rich fruit of every kind. 

Scatter the seed ! the teeming seed, wide as the world abroad ; 
Soon it will show itself indeed, the garden of our God, 
We work and wait — we toil and trust, sure that the end will come 
This wilderness of evil must be clothed with heavenly bloom ! 

Joseph Rayner Stephens died on the i8th February, 
1879, and was interred at St. John's Church, Dukinfield, 
where the baptismal font formerly used in the King 
Street Chapel marks as a mute memorial his last resting 


To the majority of our townspeople William Chadwick 
will be best remembered as Chief Constable, a position 
he held for 38 years ; but there was a feature in 
his composition which has earned for him a niche in 
the Valhalla of local scribes, and as a compliment to 
his memory, the author would gratefully acknowledge 
the kindly advice and encouragement given by the 
'* Old Chief " on many occasions. 

A native of Mottram, he quitted the village in his 
earh- manhood, and his after career brought him in 
contact with many whose names are fast passing into 
oblivion. ^Ir. Chadwick was contemporary with 
William Quarmby, Thomas Barlow, James Dawson, 


Ralph Bernard Robinson, and many others, including 
all the better known scribes of the district. The inception 
and completion of the " Lawrence Earnshaw " memorial 
at Mottram was due to the energy and devotion of our 

His own book of '* Reminiscences " is a compendium 
of incidents and facts, valuable and interesting to all 
home birds. Born on the 24th July, 1822, he lived on 
through a period which had seen more changes than 
any since the world began, and when the shadows 
of age brought their warning, he sought only to be quiet 
and alone. Wilham Chadwick died at The Hague, 
Altrincham, on the 20th April, 1902, having nearly 
completed his 8oth year. His remains were conveyed 
to Mottram, where they rest within a few feet of the 
cenotaph, with which his name must ever be connected. 

The Laureate of the Cotton Famine. 
Samuel Laycock was born at Intake Head, Marsden, 
near Huddersfield, on the 17th January, 1826, his 
father, John Laycock, being a hand loom weaver. About 
the year 1837 the family migrated to Stalybridge, and 
for seventeen years the future poet worked in the cotton 
mills of this district as a power loom weaver, and for 
other eight years as a cut looker. His first attempt at 
rhyming was written on a cop ticket. For nearly six 
years Laycock held the position of librarian and hall 
keeper at the Stalybridge Mechanics' Institution, and 
during his curatorship the Addison Club, a society of 


persons literarily inclined, was formed, which, however, 
had not a lengthy existence. Never of robust physique, 
and thinking that the change might be beneficial, he left 
Stalybridge in order to take up a similar position at 
the Whitworth Institute, Fleetwood, when he was the 
recipient of a handsome testimonial and a purse of gold 
from his friends in Stalybridge, and at a later period of 
a further tangible demonstration of his popularity, from 
a number of artists and friends in Oldham, consisting 
of £120 in gold and a number of valuable pictures and 

The following poem (incomplete) is inserted in this volume by 
the kind permission of W. E. Clegg, Esq., Oldham, the publisher of 
Laycock's complete works, " Warblin's fro' an Owd Songster." 


" Only a Poet," a schemer o' schemes; 
A weaver o' fancies, a dreamer o' dreams ; 
Insanely eccentric, wi' long flowin' hair. 
An' eyes strangely bright, wi' a meanin'less stare ! 
" Only a poet " — that 's all, nowt no moor ; 
An' as everyone knows, often needy an poor ; 
Tho' that little fault may be remedied soon, 
If th' minstrel could alius get paid for his tune. 

" Only a poet," — a gazer at th' moon, 

Or soarin' aloft i' some mental balloon ; 

Ah, some of 'em wingin' their flight to God's throne, 

An' seemin' t' forget they'n a whom o' their own, 

Wheer a wife may be ceaw'rd in an owd tattered gown, 

Very patiently waitin' till th' husband comes deawn. 

" Only a poet," a spinner o' rhymes, 

An never caught worshippin' " dollars an' dimes." 

" Only a poet ' — a star-gazin' bard, 

At may tell yo' th' earth's distance fro' th' sun to a yard ; 

But question him closely on trade, or bank shares. 

An' he '11 show his ignorance bi' way 'at he stares. 

Wanderin' throo' country lanes all the day long, 

Gabblin' strange jargon, or croonin' some song ; 


Pennin' grand thouts 'at may make the world stare. 

Then die in a mad-heawse, like poor John Clare ! 

" Only a poet " -ah ! but what does that mean ? 

Bein' passed bi' a naybur witheawt bein" seen ; 

Becose just across there comes Alderman Stott, 

An' he gets th' warm greetin' th' poor bard should ha got ! 

" Only a poet " — he s nowt he con spare ; 

If his feelin's' are hurt a bit, what need yo' care ? 

For a poet is noan o' much use as a friend, 

Since he 's nowt he con give one. nor nowt he con lend. 

" Only a poet," so let him alone, 

Or if yo' think fit. yo' may fling him a bone ; 

He lives o' such things- — bones an' owd meawldy books, 

At least one would think soa. to judge by his looks. 

Yo' keep eawt o' th' way on him, foalkes, for he's sure 

To speak abeawt sum mat yo'n ne'er yeard befoor ; 

He 's likely to tell yo' yo'n brains i' yo're yead, 

An' a soul that '11 live when yo're body 's gone dead ; 

He'll talk about spirit friends hoverin' reawnd, 

When yo' know they 're asleep, fast asleep, deawni'th' greawnd. 

He '11 offer to lead yo' through nature's sweet bowers. 

An' bid yo' admire her grand fruitage and fleawers. 

Very grand an' poetical ; nice food for kings, 

Or bein's' "at flutter abeawt us wi' wings ; 

" Only a poet," like Bloomfield or Burns, 

'At may happen amuse yo' an' vex yo' i' turns ; 

Neaw charmin' his readers wi'th' thouts fro' his pen, 

Thus winnin' their heartiest plaudits, an' then, 

It may be th' next minute yo'r filled wi' disgust 

At some sarcastic bit, or some pointed home-thrust ! 

" Only a Poet," what moor do yo' crave. 

To sweeten life's journey fro' th' cradle to th' grave? 

The Manchester Literary Club did justice to Laycock 
and credit to itself by electing him an honorary member, 
whilst the Burnley Literary and Philosophical Society 
paid him a similar tribute, and lastly the Blackpool 
Town Council placed him on its Free Library Committee. 

Samuel Laycock lived for many years at Blackpool, 


where he was in business as a photographer, confectioner, 
etc. He was a contemporary and friend of J. Critchley 
Prince, Edwin Waugh, Ben Brierley, and other of 
Lancashire's gifted sons. 

He pubhshed three books, his last being " WarbUns 
Fro' an Owd Songster," September, 1893, the issue of 
which he only survived about three months. He died, 
after a few days' serious illness, on the 15th December, 
1893, and was interred in the Blackpool Cemetery. 




The following gentlemen have held the office of 
]\Iayor and Chief Magistrate since the Incorporation 
of the Borough of Stalybridge in 1857, up to and 
including 1907. 

Those marked * are Stalybridge born, whilst those 
marked t are the surviving Mayors. 

*i. William Bayley 1S57-8-9. 

*2. Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom 1860-1. 

*3. Robert Hopwood 1862-3-4. 

*4. James Sidebottom 1865-6-7. 

5. James Kirk 1868-9-70. 

*6. John Hyde '.1871- 

*7. Ralph Bates 1872-3. 

8. Thomas Fernihough 1874. 

t9. Robert Stanley 1875-6. 

*io. Thomas Harrison 1877-8-9-80. 

t*ii. Samuel Warhurst 1881-2-3. 

12. Napoleon Ives 1884-5 

1*13. Mark Fentem, Victorian Jubilee .. .. 1886-7-8. 

114. Joseph Ridyard 1889-90-91. 

15. John Cocker 1892-3 

ti6. William Tinker 1894-5- 

17. Thomas Machell 1896. 

t*i8. John Richard Norman, Diamond Jubilee 1897-8-9. 

fig. Allwood Simpson 1900-1-2. 

t2o. Robert Wood i903-4-5- 

t*2i. Albert Sidebottom, Borough Jubilee .. 1906-7. 
t*22. Robert Dawson, Mayor Elect 1908. 



It may be that this collection of miscellaneous 
gleanings is neither more nor less than a clumsily 
made bouquet of borrowed flowers, and that the only 
function performed by the writer has been that of 
an insignificant gatherer of unconsidered trifles ; it 
must, however, be remembered that the task was 
voluntar}^ un-commissioned, and non-official, purely 
a labour of love, and interest, to which circumstances 
were favourable. The hard and fast rules usually 
followed by trained scribes and commercial recorders 
being entirely unknown to the writer, he has, after 
his own fashion, endeavoured to place in permanent 
form the result of his labours, never for a moment 
trying to please everybody, knowing from experience 
that such a thing is utterly impossible. The original 
idea which presented itself to the author was the 
preservation of personal facts concerning our local 
worthies of the past, men who had, in some manner, 
left their " footprints on the sands of Time." 

The facts, places, incidents, and individuals dealt 
with in these pages, have been as familiar during 
thejast few months to the writer, as if they had 
been still in existence, and although the worthy men 


whose brief memoirs are given, have left us, all must 
be proud to know and to feel that we have still in 
our midst, noble-minded townsmen, who by their 
generosity and sympathy, are even now building 
for themselves, memorials which "neither moth nor 
rust doth corrupt." 

" The veil of obscurity should never be lifted with 
an unkindly hand," therefore many items have been 
committed to oblivion. 

It may be a dream, but it is cherished neverthe- 
less, that the information given in these pages will 
be welcomed and appreciated in this the Jubilee 
year. It is hoped that all will read with pride, and 
share as the writer has done, " in his mind's eye," 
the struggles, trials, sorrows, joys, and successes of 
our dead and gone celebrities who are even now 
speaking to us through their works, their lives, and 
their benefactions — from the shadow-land. 

Stalybridge : 


Eclipse Works 

Market Street 



Renewed S2L^a5'^„U«To & i"! "-^ <i-. 
— . "^*^" 'o "nmediate recall. 

TOP 11 19^3 

LrD2lA-20m-3 '7^ 

University of CaliSrnia